What is a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement, antenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement is often referred to as a prenup. Prenuptial agreements establish among other issues, the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of divorce. It helps you prepare if your marriage should end in divorce. You’re also being open with your partner about your financial status, needs and concerns as you enter marriage. In this guide, we provide an introduction to prenuptial agreements – what they are, the pros and cons, and additional information. State law requirements can differ. You should seek advice and assistance from a lawyer.
Separating Your Finances
A prenup can determine whether an asset is the separate property of one spouse or part of the marital estate.
To put it in plain terms, if you’re considerably wealthier than your partner, a prenup is a good step towards ensuring that your partner isn’t marrying you for your money. If you earn much more than your partner, then a prenup can be used to limit the amount of alimony that is payable.
But there are other reasons to separate your finances—a prenup doesn’t just apply to individuals with substantial wealth or to the wealthier spouse. If you own a business, a spouse can claim a portion of your business appreciation or income. Divorce is one of the biggest threats to the stability of your business, so get that squared away in your prenuptial agreement.
Property Rights And Distribution
One of the advantages of a prenup is to control how finances and assets are divided and distributed. State law will determine how to divide certain property acquired during marriage if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement in place.
To be valid, a prenup must meet the requirements of state law which normally include proper execution prior to the marriage. To preempt having a court decide what happens to the property attained during your marriage, a prenup may be desired. Property distribution in the event of death may also be addressed.
The property and assets you bring to a marriage are called separate property. This can also include inheritance. A prenup can address issues related to inheritance.
The same concept applies to a house that you owned prior to the marriage. If you want to be sure that the house remains your sole property in the event of divorce, a prenuptial agreement can help address this issue. If you have a family heirloom or other family property you want to keep in your birth family, this can be specified in the prenuptial agreement. A prenup is also part of ensuring that your estate plan is carried out how you see fit, along with other crucial documents, such as wills and living trusts. You should also make sure that assets and the house are properly titled so that your goals are met.
Pre-Marriage Debt and Debt Liability
If your partner has a high debt load and you don’t want to be responsible for it in the event of divorce, your prenuptial agreement can give you that extra layer of protection.
A prenup is an important part of ensuring that when you pass away, your assets are distributed according to your wishes, but what about when remarriage is on the horizon and your wishes have changed? What about second marriages and blended families?
Legal and financial concerns will have significantly changed for you from your previous marriage—children, support obligations, significant assets, the list goes on. With a prenup, you can ensure that your previous and new families are taken care of as you see fit.
Can a Prenup Help Minimize the Damage of Your Divorce?
Protracted court proceedings can be expensive. Avoid the grief of negotiating all of the above when emotions and expenses are running high. It’s hard to think about the possibility of divorce before you even get married, but there are definite pros when it comes to minimizing the potential damage of your divorce.
For example, there will be greater transparency around the assets that were handled by the agreement, and that reduces tension and court intervention.
However, it’s important to note what can’t be included in a prenup.
A prenuptial agreement can’t definitively address child support or custody issues for unborn children, so these issues will have to be resolved at the time of separation or divorce.
Additionally, a prenup can negatively impact a divorce if one of the spouses asks the court to reject the agreement. The judge will then review all of the circumstances with respect to the preparation and signing of the prenup, in order to determine whether it is valid.
Will the Clauses be Really Complicated?
That part is up to you. The complexity of the clauses included in your prenuptial agreement depends on your circumstances and how you decide to negotiate the terms.
Preparing Yourself for The Possibility of Divorce
Is a prenuptial agreement romantic?
Well … no. If it were romantic, we would see a lot more of them
Yet oddly, this uncomfortable, messy prenup conversation could bring you and your partner closer together.
Divorce isn’t an inevitability, but it is a logical possibility (the divorce rate is something to keep in mind). If you and your partner are comfortable enough to have this discussion, then you have strong proof that you can handle the stressful, delicate conversations that come with marriage.
It’s difficult to recommend what is likely to be a strained conversation for even the most practical and grounded of couples, but initiating a prenuptial agreement is worth your full consideration.
With a LegalShield membership, you can get assistance from a Provider Lawyer for any issues you may have related to a prenup.
This is not intended to be legal advice. Each state has different laws governing prenups. Please contact a qualified professional family law attorney for further information.