One of the biggest challenges for newlyweds is the process of merging their finances. While prenuptial agreements are strongly recommended, even if you opt not to get one, it’s essential to talk about money and to be completely open with your soon-to-be-spouse about your financial situation — particularly all of your debts and financial obligations.

Most couples, no matter how perfectly-matched they are, have some differences in their attitudes toward money. Often these attitudes have been ingrained in them since childhood. It’s no wonder that money is the leading cause of marital strife.

Here are a few key topics to discuss before you walk down the aisle (or if you’re just moving in together, before you take that step):

— Are you going to have joint accounts, separate ones or both? Many couples have a joint account for paying household expenses and making large purchases. However, it’s a good idea to have some money in separate accounts and a credit card in your own name for your protection and just to use as you choose.

— Talk about your financial plans for the future. Are you going to focus on saving for a house and kids or do you have enough discretionary income to splurge on a European vacation? Generally, one person in the couple is better at saving than the other. That can be a problem if you’re on a tight budget or saving for something special. It’s also essential to have an emergency fund in case of a job loss, illness or unforeseen expense.

— Determine how you’re going to handle the debt that you’re bringing into the marriage, including student loans, mortgages and credit cards. Are you going to work to pay it off together or is the person who accumulated it taking full responsibility? If your betrothed is mired in debt, it can impact your credit score as well, so be careful. Responsibility for debt can be spelled out in a prenup.

Having a serious conversation about finances before you wed is a good start. You may determine as you get into the nitty-gritty of money issues that you’d benefit by having a prenuptial agreement in place. An experienced Florida family law attorney can help you with this.

Source: ctwatchdog.com, “Valentine’s Day Tips for Merging Finances,” Feb. 11, 2016