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Dispelling common prenuptial agreement myths

For some couples in Tennessee, simply mentioning a prenuptial agreement brings to mind concerns about mistrust and the possibility that a marriage may already be doomed before the "I dos" are exchanged. Oftentimes, such beliefs stem from popular misconceptions people have about prenups. One of the most common ones is that such agreements are only necessary if one soon-to-be-spouse is exceedingly wealthy or a higher earner than the other person.

In reality, prenups are designed to protect all types of marital assets, and they can predetermine everything from debt responsibility to who would get the family pet in the event of a divorce. Even so, stipulations spelled out in a prenup must be reasonable, which means agreements that include requirements about appearance or a refusal to pay child support in the future may be invalidated. Timing is also important. Prenups hastily signed before a wedding may not stand up in court either.

As for whether prenups increase the odds of divorce, when nearly 90 percent of mental health experts who were polled by a relationship website, they said that such agreements do not have a predictable impact on the duration of a marriage. Couples may also be surprised to know that prenuptial agreements can cover issues other than divorce. Estate plan details specific to what would happen if one spouse passes away and financial expectations can be included as well. And while the lesser-earning spouse may only be entitled to what he or she agreed to in the event of a divorce, the higher earner is welcome to be generous and offer more without nullifying the agreement.

Working out a prenup without a divorce attorney is also not advised. In most states, each party must have his or her own representation. Plus, a lawyer can ensure that a future spouse's best interests are protected during the negotiation process. In fact, there are times when a prenup prepared and signed without input from legal counsel may be disregarded or invalidated by the court. It's also possible to have a postnup prepared after marriage. However, whatever assets were accumulated jointly in the years when no agreement existed will still be considered marital property.

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