The Why and How about a Prenuptial Agreement?

Before marriage, couples often shy away from discussions of money, and their reluctance is understandable: Finance and romance seem mutually exclusive.

In fact, however, bringing financial issues into the open can be healthy, and it can be done without a full-scale return to the days of arranged marriages and fiercely negotiated dowries. Today, a couple can enter into a prenuptial agreement before the wedding, and that agreement will govern a wide range of financial matters in the future.

What can you put into a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement can cover a wide range of financial matters both during and after the marriage.

You can use a prenuptial agreement to specify whether some property individually obtained during the marriage will remain the property of one spouse and will not be treated as community property.

You can keep property, including property that might later be acquired by inheritance, in one spouse’s family.

You can limit one spouse’s liability for the debts of the other spouse.

You can define your respective financial responsibilities during the marriage, separating responsibility for household expenses, specifying how bank and credit accounts will be handled, and determining how taxes will be filed.

You can make provision for a spouse’s children from a previous marriage.

You can decide how property will be divided in the event of divorce and, in some jurisdictions, whether alimony will be part of the divorce settlement.

The precise answer to the question “What can you put into a prenup?” varies from state to state, but it’s fair to say that almost anything that is otherwise legal can be included, except for an agreement that defines the terms of support for the couple’s children.

How do you get a prenup?

The hallmarks of a valid, enforceable prenuptial agreement are disclosure and fairness. Unless both parties disclose all relevant details of their finances, the agreement is readily challenged, and it makes good sense to provide that information well in advance of the wedding day. The party receiving that information should have enough time to understand its implications. When information is provided at the last minute, a prenuptial agreement lawyer can argue that it was tantamount to receiving no information at all.

Demonstrating the requisite degree of fairness does not necessarily require that the agreement be fair by some particular standard. It does, however, necessitate the involvement of legal counsel. Each spouse must be provided with his or her own prenuptial agreement lawyer, someone with undivided loyalty to the individual, not to the parties as a couple.

The question “How do you get a prenup?” is only part of the ultimate question. In order to arrive at a prenuptial agreement that works, one that is valid and enforceable, both parties must put their cards on the table and each must have separate legal representation.

Marriage 101: The Prenuptial Agreement

If you are anything like me, you have to abide by a strict budget in order to see all of your bills taken care of each month. Most months there aren’t extra dollars laying around to be spent freely on anything you want. Sure, you might splurge on an occasional coffee or two, but for the most part the money you earn goes right to keeping you living each month. I have discovered a small but significant way to help curb my expenses and allow for a small amount of ‘fun money’ each month. Compare prices. It sounds simple and obvious, but my spending habits changed drastically once I began to always compare prices.

One of the biggest areas that I benefited from learning to compare prices is in grocery shopping each week. Rather than just running off to whatever store is closest or more convenient to me, I began to really search the ads and flyers to determine which stores would give me the best deals on the items I needed. I began each week by making a list of all of the grocery items I needed and then I only allowed myself to compare prices for those things. I didn’t let myself just go to the store and fill my cart with whatever caught my eye. No, I had a list and I took time to carefully compare prices. It was amazing the money I saved by purchasing items at stores with the lowest prices.

Learning to compare prices benefited me in other ways than just my grocery bill. Take going to the movie theature for an example. I took time to compare prices of the different show times and I began to see movies only in the afternoon when the prices were more reasonable. While this only saves me a few dollars each time I visit the theature, it adds up when you compare prices for all the movies you see in a full year.

I’ll admit it, I love coffee. One month I decided to compare prices of buying a coffee at a local coffee shop with making my own cup of coffee at home. Not surprisingly, I can save a lot of money by just making my own coffee. I found that I can even let myself purchase some of the best beans that are sold and I still come up with money to spare when I compare prices with local coffee shops.

It is small changes like going to an afternoon movie or brewing my own cup of coffee that have really changed my budget. I had no idea the amount of money that could be saved simply by learning to always compare prices.

Finding unique gifts can present a challenge, and most people never consider giving pet-related gifts. Since the chances are good that more than one person on your holiday gift list has a pet that he or she adores, why not give a distinctive gift that your recipient will treasure? Here are five great gift ideas to get you started:

1. Fine Art Animal Prints

Dogs may come in many shapes and sizes, but each has a personality all its own. One of the most delightful gifts you can give to a pet lover is a fine art print of his or her breed. One of the most notable artists offering fine art animal prints is Lorena Pugh. Her print, “Princess,” for example, depicts a white toy poodle laying atop a stack of twelve colorful pillows, while “Angel Face” showcases a gorgeous pug who has just snagged a cluster of grapes off of a dining room table. In “Chocolate Craving,” she realistically captures the yearning of a chocolate lab as he reaches for a tennis ball against a beautiful background of blue sky. These limited edition animal prints are sure to be treasured, as each comes with a consecutively numbered dog tag to match the tag in the print.

2. Crystal Animal Statues

Whether your gift recipient has a dog, cat, horse, or rabbit, he or she is sure to enjoy an elegant crystal animal statue. Typically made from 24 percent lead crystal, hand-finished animal statues are beautiful yet whimsical. Crystal animal statues can depict a wide variety of pets, from a sitting cat to a dog with a bone; from a turtle to a frog; from a horse to a mouse; and from a duck to a dove.

3. Stone Animal Statues

Who wouldn’t love a playful stone animal statue depicting their beloved pet? Animal garden statues are perfect gifts, as are stone animal statues for the home and office. While some statues – like a sleeping spaniel puppy or an eager dachshund – make you feel warm inside, others – like a cat holding a pair of binoculars up to his eyes, ever watchful for a bird – make you chuckle. Stone animal statues are available for virtually any type of pet, and are certain to be cherished.

4. Animal Posters

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you know how funny they can be. Animal posters depict pets in a variety of outlandish situations (remember the cat in “Hang in There”?), and are eminently affordable. An animal poster is sure to bring a smile to your recipient’s face.

5. Entertainment

When it comes to gifts for pet lovers, there’s nothing more unique that pet-related entertainment. There is actually a music company that creates music for animals, so consider giving a gift of music about and for cats, dogs, or birds. Another great gift idea is to buy a DVD or video that is designed to entertain your recipient’s dog or cat. Your friend or loved one can play the DVD or video while he or she is at work or out running errands – guilt free!

It’s both original and thoughtful to give a gift that acknowledges your recipient’s pet as a central part of his or her life. Pet lovers will appreciate and treasure your gift, whether it’s a fine art animal print or an entertaining DVD.