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Should My Fiancee And I Have A Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

Marriage is an economic partnership. You should have full financial disclosure of your fiancee's assets, debts and income before and during the marriage. You should know what your spouse is willing to share with you before the marriage.

A pre-marriage agreement, also known as a prenuptial or ante nuptial agreement, is a legal document. It is a contract between you and your fiancee that addresses financial issues and any other issues that are important to you and your fiancée. These other issues may include children, religion, sharing housekeeping tasks and career support. You should have independent legal counsel before signing any agreement. Attached to the agreement should be a financial statement listing all of the assets, debts and income of you and your fiancée.

A pre-marriage agreement allows the marriage to start on a solid financial foundation. It is a vehicle that helps ensure communication, protection, planning and financial disclosure between fiancées. This usually means less friction and more peace of mind during the marriage.

A pre-marriage agreement can determine what items are to be shared and identified as marital property or what items will be owned only by one spouse and identified as separate property. A prenuptial agreement protects promises made by the monied fiancée to share equally with the non-monied fiancee. People marrying at later stages may have accumulated property and investments that need to be considered. Children of previous marriages and relationships need to be provided for. Existing or future pensions, businesses, educational degrees and debts need to be considered as marital or separate property. Inheritance and gifts may need to be protected. Unless you make a distinct legal contract delineating the assets, any items brought into the marriage and commingled with income or property acquired during the marriage may become an asset of both spouses. If certain separate property appreciates (gains in value) during the marriage then the appreciation could be considered as marital property, unless otherwise stated in a prenuptial agreement.

Getting married is a very happy time in one's life but it also has important and serious legal and practical meaning. Smart couple's wedding preparations should include full financial disclosure, discussion of issues important to each other's life and consideration of a pre-marriage agreement. Marriage with a prenuptial agreement can provide love and security.

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