IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

I’m rich, he isn’t. Should I get a prenup?

Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for celebrities, says Jean Chatzky. Here are her tips on whether you should ask for one.

Q: I keep reading the papers about people, especially celebrities, who get prenuptial agreements. I’m not superrich, but my assets are greater than those of my future husband and my family has quite a lot of wealth. I don’t want my fiancé to think I don’t believe our marriage will last, but I’m thinking I should ask for a prenup. What do you think I should do?

A: The plain truth is that about half of all marriages fail, with those who remarry being even more likely to dissolve.

Unfortunately, only about 5 percent of couples heading into marriage actually sign prenuptial agreements, a move which can help clarify the division of assets should a divorce come about.

You should consider one:

  • If you're bringing significant assets into a marriage.
  • If you have your own business.
  • If you have family money.
  • If you have kids from a prior marriage.
  • If you are expecting a major inheritance.

If you go this route, make sure your agreement covers in the case of divorce or death: how to divide the property each of you brought to the marriage, how to divide property you acquire after the marriage, how your assets will be divided, how your debts will be handled, and whether each spouse has any financial responsibility for the other's children from previous marriages.

Most important, in order to hold up in court, a prenup needs to be fair. That means each of you needs to have his or her own attorney involved when the agreement is being drawn up, and all assets and liabilities need to be disclosed. And don't wait until the day before you head to the altar to talk about this. You don't want a court to later say you pressured your spouse into signing.

Jean Chatzky’s Bottom Line
This week: Baby steps toward debt reduction
Getting out of debt can seem overwhelming. Between credit cards, rent or mortgage payments, insurance, and those emergency items like car repairs, it's easy to feel like your financial life is out of control. But instead of looking at this mountain of debt — which is sure to feel overwhelming — take a step back and consider just one piece of it.

Starting small: Rather than worrying about paying off all of your credit cards, focus on the card with the lowest balance. Of course, you'll want to make sure you keep up with the minimum payments on all your cards, but put any extra money you have toward paying off just one card.

Finding the extra money: Take a look at your daily spending habits. Maybe you spend $2.50 a day on coffee. Or perhaps you spend $50 a month getting a manicure. Cutting back on just one luxury will help you reach your goals. Saving an extra $50 or $75 a month for paying off your credit cards adds up in the end.

Enjoying the benefits: Paying off just one credit card can be a big boost. Not only are you on the road to reducing your debt, but it's also a great motivator. Once you've reduced your debt load, suddenly the task doesn't seem so difficult.

Jean Chatzky is the financial editor for “Today,” editor-at-large at Money magazine and the author of “Talking Money: Everything You Need to Know About Your Finances and Your Future.” Her latest book, "Pay It Down: From Debt to Wealth on $10 a Day," is now in bookstores. Copyright ©2004. For more information, go to her Web site, .