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Even those of modest means can enter into a prenuptial agreement

The pending divorce of superstars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie has again demonstrated the principle that with high-asset couples, issues such as property division and spousal support are thrust into the spotlight, simply because the dollar amounts involved are so high. Perhaps for this reason, and before getting married, some high-asset couples in Gig Harbor choose to enter into a prenuptial agreement so that their financial interests are protected in the event of a divorce. Yet, does that mean that prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy and famous?

Actually, any couple getting ready to walk down the aisle may benefit from a prenuptial agreement, no matter what their wealth. Prenuptial agreements are in essence a contract. They can list which property is considered to be individual property and which property will be considered marital property. Having such distinctions made ahead of time can make the property division process in a divorce run more smoothly, should it come to that. This is because, if you have been married for a long time, it can be hard to work out which property is individual and which is marital, as many assets have become comingled. A prenuptial agreement can establish from the get-go the status of the parties' property.

Moreover, a prenuptial agreement can indicate who will be entitled to spousal support if the marriage ends in divorce. Also, if there are children from a previous marriage, a prenuptial agreement can be one way to ensure the children are protected financially if their parent's second marriage ends in divorce, although courts are usually not bound by prenuptial child custody and support agreements.

Of course, each state, including Washington, has requirements for making a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement. In general, the parties must be able to consent to the agreement; the agreement must not be overwhelmingly one-sided and the parties and may each need to have their own attorney advise them when making the agreement. However, once signed, couples can rest assured that their financial interests and their spouse's financial interests are protected, both while married and in the event of a divorce.

Source: Bankrate, "Why engaged couples should sign a prenup," Robert DiGiacomo, accessed Oct. 17, 2016

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