05/02/2012 11:49 am ET Updated Jun 25, 2012

Marriage Insurance: Why Even Happy Couples Need Prenups

Wedding season has arrived and couples nationwide are spending an incredible amount of time and money making decisions about their future. However, what is shocking to me is the lack of time couples put into safeguarding their future should their marriage fail.

It may not be a pleasant conversation to have with your fiancé, but to me, getting a prenuptial agreement deserves your time and effort and should be thought of as an insurance policy. It is a critical step to protect the assets you currently have and whatever you might acquire during the marriage, whether that is an adopted child, new business or family inheritance.

For those of you struggling with the concept of a prenuptial agreement, here is a suggestion you may not have thought of -- get one that expires. If 10, 15, or 20 years down the line, you are still married, your prenup is no longer valid as per a "sunset clause." From a legal perspective, you are agreeing that everything you earned during your marriage has indeed been earned together and therefore, your assets are shared. Some tips you should keep in mind, regardless of what type of prenuptial agreement you get include:

Enlist an attorney. One for you and one for your spouse so that the prenup is processed properly and there are no conflicts.

Be prepared to disclose all of your assets. In order for a prenup to be valid, everything must be included such as bank accounts, properties, investments, and business ownerships. This is very important because if an additional asset is found afterwards, the prenup will be thrown out in court.

Plan accordingly. Do not wait until a month before the wedding. I had a case where the prenup was signed the morning of the wedding and created unnecessary last-minute stress for the couple. The prenup process can take several weeks so you need to start as soon as possible for it to be done in a timely manner.

Divorces typically are smoother for both sides when a preexisting agreement lays out the ground rules. Save yourself the headache and insure your marriage and assets with a prenuptial agreement.

Silvana D. Raso heads the family law practice at Englewood Cliffs, NJ-based Schepisi & McLaughlin, P.A. where she counsels clients in all areas of matrimonial and family law.

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