Congratulations on your engagement! Now that you have decided to get married, picked your date, and are in the midst of wedding planning, we want you to consider adding a consult with a family law attorney to discuss prenuptial agreements to your to-do list.
Here are three things to consider.
- What is a prenuptial agreement?
- A prenuptial agreement (sometimes called an ante-nuptial agreement) is a legal contract that resolves areas of potential dispute that may arise in the event of a divorce.
- A prenuptial agreement cannot include provisions addressing custody of children or child support, as these issues will be decided based upon the best interests of the children.
- A post-nuptial agreement is the same form of contract, but entered into after the wedding.
- Why do you need a prenuptial agreement?
- The primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to identify assets, such as a business, investment accounts, or a house, that are owned before the marriage, and determine how those assets will be dealt with at the time of a divorce.
- Providing for spousal support was previously another main purpose of a prenuptial agreement, but the establishment of maintenance guidelines through legislation in recent years has made that issue less relevant.
- Without a prenuptial agreement, the burden will fall upon the spouse claiming that an asset is separate property to show why that asset should not be divided as part of the divorce. This can become expensive to do if those assets have been sold to purchase other assets (i.e., selling stock to purchase a house), or if paperwork gets misplaced.
- What are some considerations if you think a prenuptial agreement is appropriate for you?
- Both you and your partner should be represented by your own attorney, and you should each meet with your own attorney separately to discuss the terms of the proposed agreement.
- The prenuptial agreement should be negotiated and signed as far in advance of the wedding as possible, to avoid any claim that the agreement was the product of duress or undue influence. The terms of the agreement should also be re-affirmed after the wedding.
- All assets should be identified in detail so that each party knows what they are agreeing to, and so that there is no dispute what property is included in the agreement.
While we wish you luck on your upcoming nuptials, we want you to consider having a discussion about whether a prenuptial agreement would be beneficial for you both. Then it is time to seek professional legal advice from a reputable law firm regarding your specific situation. Better to be prepared now than pay later.
This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.