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Recent trends in prenuptial agreements

North Carolina residents often don't want to think about, let alone discuss, a prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding. Many individuals plan marriage because they hope it will be permanent, after all, and to some people, a prenup seems like anticipating divorce. However, while marriage is a contract between two parties, a prenuptial agreement further defines the fine print in the contract.

If a marriage ends, which they do about 50 percent of the time, a prenup protects a couple and helps with asset division. They are no longer just for the rich and famous either: A survey conducted in 2011 by one lawyers' group showed that more women want prenups and that they have significantly increased in popularity overall. Even middle class partners are using them more often.

The state of the economy means that more people are thinking more about money. While about 50 percent of marriages still dissolve, that number is actually dropping. In addition, people are delaying the age of first-time marriages, which means they bring more personal wealth into the union.

People who don't bring assets into the relationship might need to protect their future spouse from their debts as well, such as credit card debt or student loans. Once the couple marries, those liabilities can become the responsibility of both partners. Couples might also have possible future assets, such as retirement, an inheritance or property.

The time to begin discussion of prenups is after engagement. During tax season, couples can ask to see each other's tax returns as a way to initiate a discussion. A family attorney might help draft a sound prenuptial agreement so that both partners' assets remain secure.

Source: CBS News, "Why a prenup may be right for you", Mellody Hobson, May 29, 2013

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