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Prenuptial agreements: unromantic, but practical

Attitudes are changing about financial contracts signed by Texas couples entering into marriage. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported a 73 percent rise in popularity for prenuptial agreements among engaged couples in the last seven years.

Prenuptial agreements have been around longer than that, although people who signed them seemed to be affluent individuals with a lot of financial belongings at stake if a marriage ended in divorce. Less wealthy couples are finding prenuptial agreements useful to protect fewer, but still valuable, assets.

Asset importance doesn't diminish just because there aren't a lot of them. Individuals with family businesses or substantial premarital investments they wish to keep out of a marital asset pool are turning toward prenuptial agreements.

A Northwestern Mutual poll released this year found that nearly four out of five engaged couples talked about finances in advance of a wedding. Financial, legal and relationship counselors are encouraged by the survey results, since money issues are often sore spots in troubled marriages.

Couples are beginning to realize the importance of knowing assets each spouse will add to the marriage and those they expect to remain separate from it. Premarital money discussions also help couples outline strategies for existing debt.

Experts believe the communication skills couples refine during prenuptial contract negotiations set a positive pattern for marriage. Each partner enters the union with the full knowledge of financial expectations.

Some fianc├ęs still feel uneasy about the unromantic bluntness of a prenuptial agreement. Some still suppress money issues until marriage, but more and more couples feel financial straightforwardness is necessary before a long-term commitment.

Many of the problems couples face during marriage, divorce or death of a spouse are conflicts about asset ownership. Prenuptial agreements put these matters to rest before any of those events can occur, not at the moments when they happen.

Instead of thinking prenuptial agreements are romance killers, couples are beginning to see them as practical necessities.

Source: Inforum.com, "Proposing a prenup: Local couples share their stories," Anna G. Larson, July 28, 2012

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