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Why discussing finances before marriage is essential

No one can argue that it's more crucial for some couples to get a prenuptial agreement before they marry than for others. If one spouse has significantly more assets or if both spouses are going into the marriage with personal and/or business assets they want to protect, a prenup can help provide insurance for their financial future should they break up.

However, even young couples just starting out or those coming into the marriage without significant assets would be wise to consider getting one. As one family law attorney notes, prenups "preserve the expectations of the parties and prevent surprises in a divorce trial."

Even if you and your betrothed don't want to spend the time and money drawing up a prenup with a lawyer, it's important to at least discuss your individual financial situations, your beliefs around money and what your plans and expectations are for your future together.

Some couples have very different financial priorities based on how they were raised or just past experience. These conflicting priorities can be a source of considerable friction in a marriage. Here are a few key topics to discuss:

Goals: Do you plan to buy a house, have a child (or two) or perhaps get an advanced degree?

Priorities: Do you want to focus on saving or would you rather use your disposable income for travel and fun?

Problems: Does one or both of you have student loan and other debts? If so, are you going to pay them off together or will each person handle his/her own?

Money management: Will the household finances be handled by one person or both of you? Will you keep some of your money separate or pool it all?

This is also the time for full disclosure. You and your partner should be aware of the other's assets and debts. You should also make a commitment to continue this openness around financial issues throughout your marriage.

Nearly every aspect of marriage and raising a family involves money. That's why it's a source of serious marital problems for many couples. While it might not be as fun to talk about as where to go on the honeymoon, it's a far more essential conversation to have before you intertwine your finances. You may even realize after the "money talk" that it's in your best interest to have the binding legal commitment that a prenup can provide.

Source: USA Today, "Marriage finance 101: DIY prenup basics," Rick Kahler, AdviceIQ, Aug. 22, 2015

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