By the time we reach our forties, most of us have valuable assets we want to protect. In addition, by that age we realize that even though our intentions going into marriage are pure, factors beyond our control can change the course of a marriage.

This post will review a typical middle aged, middle class couple and review why a prenuptial agreement may always be a good idea.

They could be anyone, but let’s call them Sandra and Bill

Sandra, a 48 year old woman, has been single for ten years. She has considerable equity in a middle-class home, but In the ten years since her divorce, she has struggled with her finances but finally feels stable again. She would like to remarry, but she has stalled the wedding because she doesn’t want to risk financial instability again.

After a proposal of marriage, Bill, a 52 year old man, sees she is stalling and is hesitant to push her because of his own fears. During his first marriage, he started a small restaurant but lost half of his assets in his divorce. He has struggled to maintain the business and has incurred considerable debt. He doesn’t want that debt to hinder Sandra from taking a chance, nor does he want to risk losing his business in the event of a divorce.

It’s not whether you “believe” in marriage. It’s about protecting assets.

Both Sandra and Bill believe in marriage, and love each other very much, but they realize they felt those same feelings when they entered their first marriage. Maturity and experiences have made them cautious. In their case, a prenuptial agreement would alleviate their stress and allow them to move forward with their lives together.

There are good reasons to get a prenuptial agreement

Despite best intentions, half of all first marriages end in divorce and an even higher percentage of second marriages don’t last. If we didn’t believe that a marriage was viable, we probably wouldn’t take the risk. However, many marriages end, even after several years of success.

Whether one partner is wealthy, the other is poor, or both partners have equal financial stability, a prenuptial agreement can protect personal assets intended for retirement or to be passed along to children. A prenup can assure that both partners leave the marriage with the same balance of assets that they entered into it with.

Avoid long, contentious divorce, in the event the unexpected happens

A prenuptial agreement is binding and outlines how to divide all or certain assets in the event of a divorce, reducing the chance of a courtly battle over assets in the event of divorce. This reduces pressure and can save money on a lengthy legal battle.

Some people don’t have much, but what they own is important to them

A prenuptial agreement may be the only way to protect specific assets from being divided up under Texas marital property laws. A mother’s wedding ring, a family estate, an antique car – some have intrinsic emotional value beyond the dollar valuation. A prenuptial agreement could, in fact, allow you to give your mother’s wedding ring to your spouse with the assurance that it returns to you, in the event of divorce.

Protects parties from taking on each other’s previous debt

In the case of Sandra and Bill, he came into the marriage with significant personal debt to keep his business afloat. Sandra will want to remain protected from taking on that debt. With a well-written prenuptial agreement, specific debts may remain one party’s responsibility, as long as marital debt isn’t commingled (mixed together) to increase the existing debt.

Other factors to consider

Protects a non-working partner: Sometimes, one person in a marriage will opt or be requested not to work, leaving them with no means of income after a divorce. In this case, a prenuptial agreement could assure that source of income.

Removes dishonesty: Obtaining a prenuptial agreement can discourage someone who is marrying for money if they realize that there is no real money to be gained from the efforts, assuring the wealthy partner that the marriage is based on love and companionship.

Prenuptial agreements are the smart way to protect yourself

Prenuptial agreements are smart. Let’s face it, we aren’t young anymore, and often there is more to protect than a small apartment filled with our mother’s hand-me-down furniture. Homes, children, money, and businesses are involved. Getting a prenuptial agreement protects assets and loved ones, and it can protect both you and your soon to be spouse.