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Prenuptial agreements and financial behavior

Prenuptial agreements are regularly misunderstood, and often the individuals who create them believe that they are magical documents that somehow allow them to stipulate whatever they want to their spouse. However, these agreements are merely legal documents, not magic tomes, and they must respect a number of limitations to what they can dictate. One of the most commonly misunderstood areas in prenuptial agreements are those things that an agreement can dictate about behavior within a marriage as it relates to finances.

A prenuptial agreement is excellent for laying out guidelines for personal and professional responsibility within a marriage. For instance, a strong agreement might include clause that deal with how one spouse is to manage recurring expenses and bills around the house or credit card payments and spending limits. Such guidelines might also lay out how each spouse is expected to contribute to joint savings and investments, and how those savings and investments should be divided if and when a divorce occurs.

A prenuptial agreement could also dictate terms under which one spouse financially supports the goals of the other, such as putting him or her through school or investing in a creative project that could turn a profit.

Whenever you consider a prenuptial agreement (and just about every engaged couple should consider one), it is important to craft your agreement very carefully with proper legal counsel. A strong agreement can strengthen a marriage significantly, but a weak agreement will help no one if it ever needs to be used. Faulty agreements regularly do not stand up in court, and behavior clauses can be especially problematic.

Source: Findlaw, "What Can and Cannot be Included in Prenuptial Agreements," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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