Eric S. Neumann, APLC
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Prenups are good insurance for Louisianans in second marriages

Louisiana spouses in a second marriage can benefit from the lessons they learned from their first divorce. A prenuptial agreement can incorporate this experience and serve as an insurance policy to help resolve property division and other issues if the second marriage fails. This is especially true for couples over 50-years-old.

Second marriages for these couples must balance the financial needs of the new spouse with the children from earlier marriages or relationships. These marriages are also more complicated because spouses acquired property and assets since their first marriage, and they should plan for different expenses such as retirement, their children's college education or new home.

A prenup can protect these children and address the specific financial needs of the second spouse. Fair, reasonable and equitable terms may be included along with provisions that allow modification if circumstances change.

A prenuptial agreement may also incorporate estate planning. It can address matters such as financial support of the surviving spouse during their lifetime before assets are distributed to the children of the first spouse who dies. These agreements may provide for assistance to these children. Couples can determine whether lifetime gifts will be made equally and whether children receive more based on their needs. Agreements can address whether this assistance will come from premarital assets or income earned or accumulated during the marriage.

The prenup can also specify a method to reduce costs and stress. Couples can agree to mediation, collaborative law or arbitration to deal with issues that may be disputed later on.

Without a prenup, property division and other matters may be decided by courts under Louisiana law dictating the allocation of community property, pre-marital property and other estate matters. This may remove the couple from having control over a result that they believe is reasonable. At minimum, divorce is delayed by making the couple undergo settlement negotiations, mediation or even court litigation which can add additional legal expenses.

Finally, a prenup is an opportunity for a spouse to show compassion and fairness and to help develop an agreement that takes the other spouse's needs and interests into consideration. A prenup should provide a soft landing for both spouses in a divorce.

Each spouse should have their own attorney advise them and review these agreements. An attorney can help assure that a prenuptial agreement is fair and protects a spouse's interests.

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