For better and for worse but with a prenup

Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:18pm EDT
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By Sabrina Ford

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Americans are taking a cautious approach to marriage and are seeking more prenuptial agreements before walking down the aisle.

And it is not just the wealthy and famous who are looking to safeguard their assets when a marriage crumbles.

More women and middle-class couples are opting for prenups, which can also include adultery clauses, protection of retirement benefits and even custody of the dog, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), which represents more than 1600 lawyers.

"It's a planning tool. Given that half of marriages end in divorce it makes sense to plan," said Marlene Eskind Moses, the president of the AAML.

Nearly three quarters of members who responded to the AAML poll reported an increase in prenups in the last five years, and more than half said more women are seeking the legal agreements.

Once thought of as only for the rich and famous, prenups are appealing to all income levels but for different reasons.

"Sometimes it can be a prenuptial to protect against debt so that one is not responsible for debt their spouse accumulated before the marriage," Moses explained.

The legal agreements can also include clauses on financial arrangements such as budgets and whether the couple will have separate bank accounts.   Continued...

<p>A Chinese couple Yasmine Liu and Jeremy Sun pose for a wedding photo outside the Houses of Parliament in London August 19, 2010. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>