Most couples consider prenuptial agreements as unnecessary and unromantic, and believe that only movie stars and the extremely wealthy get prenups to protect their substantial assets. However, as the average marrying age increases and the economic recession drags on, more Americans are carrying a significant debt load into marriage. Therefore, family law attorneys are advising all would-be married couples to consider prenuptial agreements that establish a sound financial policy to assist with debt division in the case of divorce.

California is a community property state, which means that all income earned and assets purchased during the marriage are considered to be joint property of both spouses, with a few minor exceptions. Likewise, all debts incurred during the marriage belong to both husband and wife, regardless of who actually acquired the debt. Any debt that a spouse incurs before entering the marriage, however, will remain the responsibility of that spouse alone.

It is easy to see how a seemingly simple marital property division can become very complicated in a very short period of time. Therefore, a prenuptial agreement may be a valuable tool. If nothing else, a prenup will give the marrying couple an opportunity to discuss their financial history and goals, which is a good conversation to have before combining bank accounts, buying a home, and making plans to send children to college.

Family law attorneys recommend creating a prenuptial agreement at least six months before the wedding to allow both parties ample time to review it. This will ensure that the agreement holds up in court if either spouse tried to challenge it. In addition, it is recommended that a neutral third party assists with the drafting of the document, in order to keep emotions out of play. That person will ensure that the agreement is reasonable and enforceable and that it complies with applicable state laws.

Source: Daily Finance, "Five Tips on Planning a Prenuptial Agreement Before You Say I Do", Catherine New, 5 April 2011