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Getting married? Even for the first time, if one of you is running their own business, a prenuptial agreement (prenup) may be in order. If either of you have children from a previous marriage, it is a critical consideration.

First, when there already are children. You have to make sure that your new spouse can stay in the home you are about to share. but, you need to insure that the value of the home (equity, gains) is available to your children upon the sale of the home- or perhaps at a set time in the future, regardless of the situation.

For example, you may want the home sold and the equity and profit to be used to live comfortably in rental property (or a senior village) for the rest of your life. Given that agreement, selling the house was always going to happen; now, your children will be able to enjoy the equity and gains that accrued.

If you have a business, then you may want the value to be passed to your children. You certainly would not decide to sell the business should your marriage fail. But, that could happen (spouse claims a large portion of the accrued value was due to their efforts- either in the business or at home, making it possible for you to have increased its value). Unless it is listed in the prenup.

But, you can’t spring this on your potential spouse the night before the wedding either. I would suggest 60 to 90 days before the wedding (if not sooner). That way your potential spouse has the opportunity to review it- with an attorney of choice (theirs, not yours). Oh- it’s not a take it or leave it offer, either; be prepared to negotiate various clauses.

Assemble a very detailed Appendix. One that lists all assets that you (and your spouse) feel are personal and not to be contested by children or ex-spouses in the future. (I don’t mean each pen and pencil be listed- but make sure that nothing meeting or exceeding 2% of your assets is omitted.)

A clause needs to be present that this prenup is “the entire understanding of both parties”. Because oral amendments should not be tolerated.

And, if you want to try to limit alimony, consider the fact that some states will obviate the prenup if you’ve been married for a “long time” (at least one state considered 7 years a long time.) Make sure that both spouses can survive reasonably well in the event of a divorce. It may save you a fortune in divorce costs.

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