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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

Give yourself plenty of time to work out the prenup, and read it thoroughly.

"Some people are signing prenuptial agreements, literally, on the day of the wedding in their wedding gown," says Kathleen A. Miller, president of Miller Advisers Inc. and author of "Fair Share Divorce for Women."

Common mistakes
The most common mistakes that remarried people make are not changing the beneficiary designations on various accounts and insurance policies -- and not titling assets properly.

The more complicated your life is, with businesses, first marriages, second marriages and children, the more careful you have to be in enunciating exactly what you want.

Engel warns that, despite the frequency of remarriage, courts don't recognize stepchildren as heirs. If you want to leave assets to a stepchild, put the child's name in your will and mention the heirs by name repeatedly, instead of using generic terms like "children" or "heirs."

Want to control exactly where your money goes? If you have older kids, Bendix recommends gifting. Alone, you can give a child $10,000 each year -- or $20,000 if you do it as a couple.

But clearly this option is not for everyone. Gifting is only for "When parents have more than enough money and they want their kids to enjoy it now," he says.

One danger, usually for women, comes when one spouse decides to stay home with the kids. If the marriage breaks up, not only has she lost potential income and career training, but retirement savings as well.

And in a divorce, it's much more difficult to demonstrate contributions to the household without a pay stub. If a bride or groom is considering staying home, the prenup should compensate the spouse for everything he or she will be giving up.

Another big mistake is commingling money. If you want to make a case for keeping something for you or your side of the family -- keep it separate. If it's something you're still making payments on, like a home or a car, "don't use common earnings to support that," Miller says.

Financial advisers and attorneys recommend that the bride and groom become very familiar with their partner's finances. Some even recommend running a credit history.

"I would want an audited financial statement and a credit report, if I could," Miller says.

 
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