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Rise of the prenuptial agreement

According to a recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, nearly 63 percent of that organization's nearly 1600 members were surveyed and indicated an increase in couples seeking a prenuptial agreement over the last three years. Michigan residents may find it interesting to learn that the according to the president of AAML some of the reasons for this increase is that, generally, people are getting married much later in life nowadays, and as such have accumulated more wealth before getting married. Furthermore, not only are they much more knowledgeable about their assets, and particularly their real estate, but they are also more concerned about what can happen to it in the event of a divorce. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed indicated that in prenuptial agreements, real estate, particularly separate property, is the most common asset to be addressed.

Generally, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement, a court will decide how property will be divided in accordance with state law. Separate property typically refers to all assets that an individual owed prior to marriage, inherited or acquired after separation. For example, if a person owned a home before meeting their partner, they may want to ensure that the home remains theirs if the relationship does not work out. Thus, a prenuptial agreement allows one to have specific instructions on what to do with such property.

Furthermore, a couple can also indicate what they would like to do with any future property. Even though prenuptial agreements are on the rise, one AAML member notes that such pre-marital discussions have dissuaded couples from marrying altogether. Furthermore, depending on the complexity of the assets and the value involved, prenuptial agreements can cost anywhere between $15,000 to well over $60,000. Despite the increase in prenuptial agreements, they are still fairly rare and only about 3 percent of those who are married or engaged to be married get one.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "The Growing Popularity of the Prenup," Sanette Tanaka, Oct. 31, 2013

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