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Special section Love and money -- oil and water?

Things are more complicated a second (third or fourth) time around. When you have kids and assets to protect, realistic concerns should prevail.

Getting married again? See a lawyer

If you're getting remarried, you've got plenty of company. About half of U.S. marriages are remarriages, according to Margorie Engel, expert council to the National Stepfamily Resource Center.

That can make things complicated because by the time a second marriage rolls around, chances are one or both parties have kids, assets and obligations, which they may or may not want to share.

That means you and your spouse-to-be need to sit down with a financial planner to work out who owns what, how to title assets and how to spend and save money together.

And when you're done with that, you're only half done. Before heading down the aisle, you also need to visit a lawyer.

Everyone has bright expectations going into a marriage. But if you have obligations to kids or elderly parents, especially if you or your partner has accumulated debts or savings, you need a prenuptial agreement and a will.

Even then, "There are no guarantees," Engel says.

"The important thing is to figure out what or who you want to protect," says Lynne Gold-Bikin, partner in charge of the family law department of Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen in Philadelphia. "You have to prioritize."

Conventional wisdom is that the bride and groom should each have their own attorney for the prenup.

"To keep independent and avoid conflict of interest, both parties should hire their own attorney," says David Bendix, president of The Bendix Financial Group, a financial planning firm.

However you decide that you want your assets divided "spell it out in the prenup," says Bendix. The same goes for the will.

Many lawyers like to videotape the signing.

"If I represent a spouse who wants protection, I want to ask certain questions," says Gold-Bikin. "'Are you under the influence? Do you understand what you are signing? Do you have a lawyer?'"

Best of all, she says, with a video witness of the event one party can't change the story later.

 
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