Prenups: The death of romance?

With a staggering 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, prenuptial agreements have become standard fare for the rich and famous. While wags wonder whether Nicolas Cage or Michael Jackson might get the keys to Graceland, what about the rest of us?

"Anybody who has any substantial assets," says attorney Frank Buck, should consider a prenuptial agreement. He says his firm, Buck, Toscano, and Tereskerz, handles plenty of them.

"It's most common in second marriages," Buck explains, "where there is property on one or both sides." Making sure children from previous marriages receive property is another reason for a prenuptial.

But Buck is quick to point out that broaching the subject of a prenup can be stressful on a relationship. In fact, he says, he's seen marriages called off because of it.

If someone wants a prenup, Buck suggests getting it worked up "a long time" before the wedding before a date is even set. "That way," he says, "they can focus on the happiness of the day.

"I've had clients who lived together and got along well for years, but after negotiating a prenup right before their wedding," Buck says, "the couple spent three months fighting at home, and the next two years fighting in court."

For those who don't have significant assets, Buck says the prenup isn't worth the trouble. When it comes to dividing property, Buck says, "the law in Virginia is somewhat reasonable."


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