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Prenups and postnups: the growing role of marriage contracts

Many Dallas residents are aware of the evolving role of the prenuptial agreement when it comes to marriage. In the past, prenuptial agreements were generally frowned upon. They symbolized the end of a marriage before it even begun. And besides, the two spouses were gearing up for the happiest day of their lives. Who would want to discuss complicated financial matters and the prospect of divorce under those circumstances?

There was a stigma attached to prenuptial agreements; and in some regards, that stigma remains. However, times are changing -- and prenuptial agreements are now a vital part of the marriage process.

Instead of thinking about prenups as something that inhibits love, soon-to-be-married couples need to think of a prenuptial agreement as a way of separating and shielding divisive factors from your marriage. That way, things like assets and property don't poison your relationship. The process for handling them, should a divorce arise, is already decided before things even begin.

Sometimes though, a couple may not set aside the time to get a prenuptial agreement properly drafted and signed before they walk the aisle. It is not a good idea to sign a prenup under hasty or forced circumstances, as it may not stand up to an appeal. A judge could rule that the prenup was agreed under fraudulent circumstances.

Newlywed couples in this situation should not worry. Missing out on a prenuptial agreement may be disappointing, but you can still draft a similar contract that will provide the same protections: a postnuptial agreement. Postnups have a couple of added bonuses. You can sign multiple postnuptial agreements, with each one potentially addressing a new life event (maybe a newborn child or a major piece of newly acquired property). They can also be flexible, expiring at certain dates and then allowing the spouses to come to terms on a new postnup -- one that better reflects their current situation.

Source: CNBC, "Why postnups may be picking up," Kelley Holland, July 14, 2013

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