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Does every Texas couple benefit from a prenuptial agreement?

So much time, energy and money is invested in Houston weddings that engaged couples can be hard-pressed to think of anything other than the immediate future. Almost-married couples are caught up in romance and detailed plans for a big celebration. The subject of finances certainly isn't as exciting as planning a life-changing event.

It may seem surprising that many couples avoid financial discussions prior to marriage, since money problems often contribute to divorce. Two people frequently have very different financial habits and expectations. The exceptions have been individuals with significant wealth who've turned to prenuptial agreements to define asset ownership and establish financial rules.

Prenuptial agreements certainly provide a way to protect individual assets. The contracts also serve other important purposes that are attractive to less-than-affluent couples. Consequently, the agreements have gained in popularity.

In 2013, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported 63 percent of surveyed attorneys noticed a spike in premarital agreements over three years. The greatest concerns for engaged couples were separate property protection, alimony and property division. Spouses can avoid contentious divorce battles and financial shocks by making mutual decisions about these issues in advance of marriage.

Prenups are all about finances but not all about asset protection. You can shield yourself from a spouse's debts, assign marital financial duties and protect the inheritance of children from earlier relationships. Boundaries can be set on spousal support and individual property like businesses can be protected from post-divorce division.

As long as the agreement is made in good faith and according to Texas laws, you can customize a financial future -- whether or not that future includes divorce. Should the marriage end in conflict with no prenuptial agreement, the division of marital property will follow state community property laws.

Every Houston couple may not want or need a prenuptial agreement. It's helpful to speak with an attorney to determine whether a prenup is beneficial for you.

Source: FindLaw, "Can Prenuptial Agreements Help You?" Oct. 01, 2014

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