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How a prenup can help you even if you're not a millionaire

When you think of a high-asset divorce, you probably think of a celebrity couple fighting over who gets each of their five homes and how many tens of thousands of dollars one of them will get in spousal support. The juiciest celebrity breakups, though, are usually the ones that don't involve a prenup. Without a prenup, all marital assets are up for grabs, which makes for good headline fodder. Think for a minute, though, about what it would be like to be in that situation.

Everything you and your spouse had together could potentially be split equally, which includes any money you earned during the marriage. If you have a family business and you added your spouse to important documents, he or she could go after half of it. If you received an inheritance that you wanted to save for your children, your spouse could be entitled to part of that as well. While no one enters a marriage wanting to get divorced, divorce is a fact of life for many people in Chicago, and having to face the loss of your most valuable possessions can be heartbreaking. Fortunately a prenup can prevent all of this.

While some Chicagoans may cringe at the idea of a prenup, those who have drafted one and gone through a divorce know how beneficial they can be. And while prenups aren't just for millionaires, many people have more assets than they think. Here is a short list of things you might have that could warrant a prenup:

  • You have been married before and have children from that marriage.
  • You own a business or a home.
  • You have a 401(k) or other retirement fund. 
  • You or your soon-to-be spouse is significantly wealthier than the other.

Ultimately, deciding to draft a prenup is up to you and your partner. As people continue to get married at a later age and, therefore, bring more to the table when they do, it may be worth at least considering. If you do decide it's the right choice for you, make sure to talk about it long before you get married. 

Source: CBS Philly, "3 On Your Side: Getting Married? Consider A Prenup," Jim Donovan, June 12, 2013