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What's the first thing you should do before marriage?

Many soon-to-be newlyweds are excited to begin their new lives together, but before they take the plunge into marriage there's something that they may want to consider -- signing a prenuptial agreement. As unromantic as this might sound, a prenuptial agreement will be extremely helpful if the marriage ends in divorce, as approximately 33 percent of marriages do.

In between making marriage plans and setting the wedding date, couples should draft and sign their prenuptial agreements as soon as possible. The earlier they do so, with as much time as possible before the marriage plans have been set in stone, the more likely the prenup will hold up in court. If couples wait until the final hour, for example, they may find that a prenup has less chance of withstanding a challenge on the grounds that the lesser-moneyed spouse signed the document as a result of being pressured or coerced.

Imagine this scenario, the flowers are ordered, the band is paid and the couple send out wedding invitations to 300 people. Then, one spouse springs a prenup on the other. That spouse might feel pressured to sign the document just so he or she wouldn't be humiliated for canceling an already-planned wedding. Potentially, such an argument could be successfully made in court.

If you feel that a prenuptial agreement is appropriate for your marriage, make sure you plan for the document well in advance. It's also important to ensure both you and your soon-to-be spouse have your own independent legal representation to assist in draft and review the document before either signs the prenup.

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