Ready to marry? Consider a pre-nup

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Divorce is complicated. Remarriage may be even more complicated.

According to Pew Research Center, the divorce rate for adults over the age of 50 has nearly doubled since the 1990s. Among those over 65, that number has nearly tripled. And when studies examine remarriages, the numbers are even harsher: Adults age 50 and older in remarriages are twice as likely to divorce than those in a first marriage.

For an increasing number of couples, a pre-nuptial agreement is a smart legal move to protect assets, preserve inheritances and provide peace of mind.

But while a pre-nuptial agreement often makes sense, keep this in mind:

“There are very few things you can count on, but you can count on this — a pre-nuptial agreement will be challenged in court,” says Lisa Owen, an attorney with Cauthorn Nohr & Owen with more than 20 years of experience in Divorce and Family Law.

Does that mean you should skip the pre-nup altogether? Not at all. Important steps — and experienced legal counsel — can help ensure both parties get fair treatment if life’s circumstances require the enforcement of a pre-nuptial agreement.

Here are some important tips:

Start the conversation early about a pre-nuptial agreement.  An agreement likely to stand up in court can’t be thrown together in a matter of weeks. The people who need pre-nuptial agreements are those who have complicated finances.

Disclose everything. That means everything. Leave no stone unturned when you are declaring assets, debts and income. You’ll want to avoid the appearance of deception — “hidden assets, debt and income” will draw the wrong kind of attention in court and is a key factor in enforceability later on.

Make sure both parties are well-represented in the creation of the pre-nuptial document. If your soon-to-be spouse thinks she can’t afford a lawyer, provide the funds for her to select an attorney herself. Not only do you want to be fair to the person you love and are about to marry, the fact that both parties had strong legal counsel could be an important factor if you end up in front of a judge to get a pre-nuptial agreement enforced.

Keep a copy of the agreement — and make sure your spouse has one, too. If the pre-nuptial agreement is missing, it’s as if it never happened.

“Nobody likes to think about divorce in the glow of planning a wedding,” says Ms. Owen. “But it is smart for all parties to create a pre-nuptial agreement that’s fair to all.”

The CNO Team