Determining whether a prenuptial agreement is necessary

Some people in Tennessee may think of a prenuptial agreement as something that only wealthy people need. A prenup describes how property will be divided if a couple gets a divorce. A spouse might also waive the right to claim alimony using a prenup. For some people, a prenup might seem like preparation to divorce before the marriage has started.

However, a prenup can protect the property that people bring into a marriage. While this is supposed to be separate property, the reality is more complex. If marital funds are mingled with separate property, that property could be considered marital property in the event of a divorce. An example might be income earned during the marriage used to pay the mortgage on a home that one person has owned since before the marriage. Since income may be considered shared property, even if the home remains in one person's name, the other spouse might be able to claim part of its value during a divorce.

Prenups can be useful in other ways. For people who have children from earlier relationships, prenups can be crucial to ensuring that if the parent dies, assets pass to the children and not to the new spouse.

Couples who do not have a prenup may still be able to reach an agreement about property division using mediation instead of going to court. An advantage of mediation over litigation is that it is not an adversarial process. Instead, its focus is on trying to find a solution that suits all parties. While property division in Tennessee is supposed to be equitable, couples may still come up with creative solutions that allow each of them to keep the assets that are most important to them. Even with a prenup, couples with children must still reach an agreement on child custody and support.

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