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The prenuptial agreement: Is it for you?

Couples in Oregon who are engaged to be married know how much preparation the typical wedding requires. From narrowing down the guest list to picking out the reception music, the list of to-dos can seem endless. It's not unheard of for soon-to-be spouses to have disagreements over the finer details, though they're usually resolved quickly. As the couple prepares for their life together, these minor differences can remind them that they are bound to have conflicts over the course of their marriage.

 Why, then, is the concept of a prenuptial agreement so scary? 

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, prenuptial agreements are growing increasingly common. More than 60 percent of family law attorneys who responded to a survey on prenups reported an increase in these agreements over the past three years. But there are still plenty of men and women who see them not as a way to protect their own property, but as an engagement killer. 

If you're considering asking your betrothed to sign a prenup but are afraid to bring up the subject, you may want to keep a couple things in mind. First, consider whether you need one. Although prenups are by no means only for the wealthy, they tend to make the most sense for those with some property or assets to protect. The president of the AAML says that those with assets under $200,000 may not benefit. If this will be your first marriage, you also may not have as much at stake as someone with children from a previous marriage or an alimony payment to make, which could affect a couple's finances. 

If you decide you want a prenuptial agreement, one good way to approach the subject might be to discuss future finances with your future spouse. You may find that you have different views on how you will share income and expenses, and how future children will affect them. A talk about a prenup can include not just money, but agreements on how you'll handle serious conflicts. For example, you might agree in writing that if the marriage starts going south, you'll agree to try counseling before filing for divorce. 

Talking about potential problems in a future marriage may be just the thing to head them off. You might even find that drafting and signing a prenup acts as a safeguard against ever needing one. 

Source: The Huffington Post, "What To Consider Before Asking For A Prenuptial Agreement," Geoff Williams, Nov. 27, 2013 

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