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How does a prenuptial agreement affect personal debt?

Being in any relationship is hard work, even in the best of circumstances. However, most of us face many hard lessons or unanticipated roadblocks on the way to a healthy relationship. If you and your future spouse are willing to approach marriage pragmatically, you can save yourselves a great deal of frustration and heartache, which serves to strengthen your marriage for the long haul. This is especially true if one or both spouses carry significant personal debt.

Regardless of how you or your future spouse acquired the debt, it's now an unavoidable part of your life together until it is resolved or your marriage ends. Too many couples fail to realize just how heavily financial burdens can weigh on a relationship, or learn too late that failing to protect one spouse from the other's debt can result in a creditor seeking repayment from either one of them. In huge numbers, couples who fail to address financial issues before marriage see the marriage fail within a few years. However, it doesn't have to be this way.

Prenuptial agreements provide some protection for those with debt, if they are used properly. With a properly executed prenuptial agreement, a couple can outline whose property is whose before the marriage joins their individual estates. Subsequently, creditors seeking repayment from one spouse cannot claim that the other spouse's property is also available to satisfy the debt. The other spouse's property remains his or her own.

Prenuptial agreements also help couples explore how they align or differ in their approaches to financial and legal responsibilities. A properly crafted agreement can outline each spouse's expectations of the other and detail provisions to help motivate both parties to hold up their own end of the relationship.

If you believe that you and your future spouse could benefit from a well-crafted prenuptial agreement, don't wait to consult with an experienced attorney. He or she can help you understand and build a prenuptial agreement that addresses your individual needs and protects your marriage.

Source: Findlaw, "Pros and Cons: Premarital Agreements ("Prenuptials")," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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