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Georgia couples should consider prenuptial agreements

Although they are becoming more common, many Georgia readers might still attach a stigma to prenuptial or postnuptial contracts. For example, some may avoid such contracts, fearing it would send the wrong message to a future or current spouse. Others may believe the contracts to be unnecessary, as divorce law provides ample guidelines for the division of property and other matters, such as child custody and support.

Yet a closer look might convince readers about how practical and easy it can be to execute a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement can help avoid surprises down the road by prompting discussions about important issues. Even a postnuptial contract, entered into after a couple has married, can plan for future contingencies in the event that a couple decides to part ways.

In a typical divorce proceeding, assets must located, identified as separate or part of the marital estate, and valued. Yet many spouses may have owned property before getting married. Others may have received inheritances. In both cases, separating individual property from commingled joint accounts can be a confusing process.

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement takes a proactive approach to any potential asset entanglement by requiring the full disclosure of each spouse's assets and property. Such agreements can also plan for additional economic situations, such as a substantial change in one spouses' income, or a new business start-up.

As with any contract, a prenuptial or postnuptial contract cannot circumvent applicable state laws, such as state guidelines for determining child support obligations. However, within that constraint, couples have a surprising amount of freedom to direct the terms of a legal divorce or separation. An experienced attorney can advise couples of their rights and options.

Source: Forbes, "Pros And Cons Of Keeping A Secret Fund In Case You Divorce," Jeff Landers, Feb. 14, 2013

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