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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

You want to share your life with this person, but do you have to share their debts, too?

Some lawyers insist that debt brought into a marriage remains the property of the debtor. Others argue that judges, in a divorce, will look at all the obligations facing both parties and split things accordingly.

Do you have a business that you want to keep for yourself and your kids? Consider a family limited partnership, a device used by giants like Nordstrom.

"It's an effective way to keep people out," Miller says. You're saying, in effect, "they will get no part of it once the sheets split."

And remember, rights to certain assets, such as retirement plans, can only be legally waived after the wedding. So if you have those arrangements in your prenup, you need one more trip to the attorney's office after you say, "I do."

In the state where you live
Also remember that where you live might make a big difference in how you live if you should get divorced.

Community property states
Arizona New Mexico
California Texas
Idaho Washington
Louisiana Wisconsin
Nevada    

In a community property state, assets acquired during the marriage are owned 50/50. In an equitable distribution state, the judge tries to divide the assets according to the needs of each party.

"People move and have no clue that state law has possibly upended every financial decision they have made in their lives," Engel says.

While you can put anything you want into a prenup, to be enforceable a court must find that it is fair and honest. That means each party has to get something and neither party can hide anything.

Prenups can also be set aside if life circumstances change dramatically -- so your first draft of the prenup might not be your last. Children, wealth, debt and careers change marriages -- and marital finances. You may want to revisit, or even invalidate your prenup later in life.

"You have to understand that marriage is a business relationship, as well as a marriage and family relationship," says Tina Tessina, a psychotherapist and the author of "The Ten Smartest Decisions A Woman Can Make After Forty."

"A good marriage will take in money, spend out money and turn a profit in terms of savings and retirement, she says. "Your business skills can translate into a romantic relationship if you let them."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer living in Atlanta.

Create a news alert for "saving"
-- Updated: Jan. 30, 2007
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