Before a couple gets married, they should engage in an unromantic but important conversation about their finances and explore whether they should enter into a prenuptial agreement. These agreements help prevent some of the major causes of divorce and protect their rights during property division, if their marriage ends in a divorce.
Divorce may bring some unpleasant economic surprises. Louisiana is a community property state, where any debts or assets acquired by a spouse is community property that is divided by the couple when they end their marriage. For example, a car purchased by one spouse in that spouse's name belongs to the couple as community property.
Couples have the option of combining their assets, keeping their property separate or a combination of both. Couples who are hesitant about combining their finances can have one joint checking account to pay for joint expenses, such mortgage payments, rent or utilities. Each spouse can agree to pay a set amount or a percentage of their income to this checking account, pay for certain bills and jointly approve purchases over a specific amount.
But, keeping assets separate takes away the chance to work together on saving money, planning for retirement or making large purchases. A spouse may also be surprised by the other spouse's reckless spending.
A candid discussion of finances can also diminish one of the major causes of divorce. Couples can share their ideas and plans on debt, retirement and paying for their children's education. A prenuptial agreement is a good option for couples who have large income differences, or if one spouse has a large amount of debt or a spouse wants to protect children from an earlier relationship.
Prenuptial agreements are also an effective means for keeping pre-martial assets separate.
Prenups allow a couple to agree on any property that should be excluded as community property in Louisiana. A will and a prenuptial agreement also helps assure that children from a previous marriage have their inheritance protected.