Prenuptial Agreements

Why it's important to protect your assets

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When planning your wedding, the last thing you want to think about is divorce. You are saying your vows with the full intention of being together forever, but even the most crazy in love couple could and should consider a marriage contract.

If you consider that just under half of all marriages end in divorce in Australia, it seems undeniably sensible to protect yourself, should the worst happen.

Consulting a lawyer to draft up a pre-nuptial agreement is a wise thing to do. A pre-nuptial agreement helps to define who gets what should the marriage dissolve, including division of possessions, custody of any children or pets and can include clauses that allow pay-offs depending on different factors.

For a long time, they were property of just the rich and famous, but with divorce rates climbing higher and higher, it’s more important to be sure that should your marriage fall apart, you won’t lose out. This is particularly important if you own a home or have money you want to protect, or if you have children from a previous relationship, as you don’t want to risk losing any assets they could benefit from in a divorce.

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones signed a prenuptial agreement with her husband Michael Douglas which entitles her to $2.8 million for every year they are married. Catherine, who has two children with Douglas, has expressed her approval for the contracts, saying: “I think they’re brilliant. I get taken care of very well.”

Katie Holmes also had a prenuptial agreement in place with her estranged husband Tom Cruise. The Dawson’s Creek actress was entitled to $3 million dollars for every year of her marriage to Tom, or a lump sum of $33 million should the marriage have lasted 11 years. If it had exceeded 11 years, the agreement would have become null and void and Katie would have been entitled to half of Tom’s fortune.

Sometimes prenuptial agreements are signed purely with children in mind. Brad Pitt didn’t have a prenuptial agreement with his first wife Jennifer Aniston, but has one in place with new fiancée Angelina Jolie, which guarantees her custody of their six children should they split. The financial side of the contract is not evident, indicating that perhaps their children, rather than their money, are their greatest concern when considering what should happen if their impending marriage breaks down.



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