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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Prenups have become more acceptable

Thirty or 40 years ago, prenuptial agreements were relatively unheard of, and even then, they were for the wealthy or celebrities. As the number of divorces has increased, so have the number of people using prenups. Once upon a time, these agreements were viewed as either unromantic or capable of jinxing the marriage.

That perception is rapidly changing. People across the country, including many here in Texas, are marrying later in life. Many believe they need to have some financial security. This means that by the time they marry, they own property, carry debts and have a career or business. You may be one of these people, and you may also be eager to protect what you have built in your life. In addition, you may want to protect your future spouse, especially if you come to the marriage with debts.

Let's look at some statistics

Back in the 1970s, nearly eight out of every 10 people were married by age 30. You don't see those numbers now until about the age of 45. A 2015 Allstate and the National Journal survey showed that more than 50 percent of people now in their 20s and 30s believe that being financially secure is important prior to marriage.

The role of women has changed significantly since the 1970s as well. Approximately 14 percent of women in 2016 stayed home full time. This is in stark contrast to 1975 in which around 43 percent of women remained at home after marriage.

I want you, not your debts

College is expensive, and as a result, more people carry significant amounts of student loan debt into their marriages. In 2013, approximately 41 percent of couples were dealing with student loans. Back in 1989, that number was only around 17 percent. Like many other couples, you may not want to end up responsible for your spouse's school debts if the relationship ends.

What's mine is mine

In addition to keeping debts separate, you and your intended spouse may also want to keep the assets you bring into the marriage separate. Retirement accounts, business interests and inheritances are among the assets that you want to remain separate in the event of a divorce. If you are involved in a business or stand to inherit significant assets when a parent dies, a prenuptial agreement may be required in order to keep those future assets from becoming part of a divorce.

The legalities

If you and your future spouse intend to have a prenuptial agreement, it would be a good idea not to go it alone. In order for your agreement to survive the scrutiny of the court if it's needed in the future, it must be negotiated, drafted and executed in accordance with Texas law. Otherwise, you could end up having to start from scratch in the event of a divorce.

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