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How to protect yourself with a prenup

Most of our Louisiana readers know what a prenuptial agreement is, and some of you may even have one. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a prenuptial agreement is a contract that a couple signs before they are married to basically decide the terms of their divorce, should they need one. A prenup can address everything from child support to spousal support to what will happen with a family business. And while each couple can tailor their prenup to their specific situation, a prenup must meet a few requirements to be upheld in divorce court.

First of all, both partners should be represented by an attorney, and each should have his or her own attorney. Not only will a prenup be more likely to be upheld in court if an attorney was present for its signing, but working with an attorney will also ensure that both parties are protected and treated fairly in the agreement.

Next, a prenup has to make sense. Provisions that are clearly unfair to one partner -- such as a stipulation that says the breadwinner will not pay any child support -- will likely be shot down by a judge. Similarly, strange provisions such as terms about what color a person's hair must be or how much one partner must weigh during the marriage won't go over well in court.

In addition to being fair, the agreement also has to be truthful. Both parties must disclose all of their assets. If one spouse hides assets and the other can prove it, the prenup would likely be invalidated.

Finally, both parties to a prenup must sign the document willingly. If one person is coerced into signing it against their will or if a person was not of sound mind when he or she signed it, a judge may choose to throw it out. It is very difficult, however, to prove that a prenup was signed under duress.

When it comes down to it, a prenup must be accurate and fair to both sides. By taking the time to work with an attorney, you can ensure that your agreement will hold up in court if you and your spouse decide to divorce.

Source: Forbes, "Five Reasons Your Prenup Might Be Invalid," Jeff Landers, April 2, 2013

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