The Prenuptial Agreement (also known as “Premarital Agreement,” “Marriage Contract” or “Antenuptial Agreement,” for example), is a private contract between two people who intend to get legally married. The Prenuptial Agreement (or “Prenup,” as it is fondly called) suffers both a bad rap and a bad rep as an unromantic “buzz-kill” reserved for wealthy people. In reality, there are several reasons why a Prenuptial Agreement should be considered by couples intending to legally marry. First, financial matters comprise an important element of married life. Preparation of a “Prenup” ideally involves complete disclosure of each person’s finances: it is better to know the other person’s finances now, before you are legally bound in marriage, than later. Furthermore, since financial matters are so important in marriage, you will have to discuss them at some point. Discussing them before marriage will teach you quite a bit about handling certain issues and planning for the future with your fiancé. Secondly, there’s the possibility of divorce: though engaged couples believe their chances of divorce are nil or extremely remote, the fact remains that there is a high incidence of divorce in the United States. Contested divorces tend to consume greater amounts of money through attorneys’ fees and costs, time, energy and stress. Furthermore, failing to reasonably resolve certain issues beforehand will mean that those issues will be subject to an often complex set of changing laws and unknown judges governing divorce. Consequently, clarifying and settling certain issues calmly in advance will probably preserve more of your legal control over those issues while saving you money, time, energy and stress in the unlikely event of your divorce. Third, don’t underestimate “peace of mind.” The future is uncertain, with bad and/or good possibilities – such as accidents, illness, and the accumulation of assets. Clarifying and settling certain issues calmly in advance can give you a well-founded sense of well-being because you have prepared to the best of your ability. Given at least those three reasons, a Prenuptial Agreement should at least be considered by couples planning to legally marry.
What, then, makes a Prenuptial Agreement a great idea for a couple planning to legally marry? A Prenuptial Agreement can greatly assist anyone who has: assets, such as a home, vehicles, stocks/bonds, retirement funds, financial interests in a business, received or anticipated inheritances, expensive jewelry, etc.; and/or liabilities, such as student loan debts, credit card debts, business debts, existing or anticipated financial responsibilities from a lawsuit, tax liabilities, mortgages, car loans, etc.; and/or children from another relationship (including but not limited to another marriage). A Prenuptial Agreement, reached through full disclosure and honest discussion, can fairly apportion your assets and liabilities, and can allow you to legally protect your children from another relationship. Certainly, these elements are not limited to wealthy people. Rather, they encompass anyone who is planning to marry and has assets to preserve, liabilities to avoid/minimize, and/or existing children for whom they wish to legally provide.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DON’T avoid the inevitable discussions about finances, including assets and liabilities.
If you have children from a prior relationship, DON’T avoid discussions about legally protecting those children.
DO at least consider a Prenuptial Agreement if you are planning to legally marry and you wish to:
1. have full disclosure of each other’s financial situations;
2. learn how to discuss and settle joint financial matters;
3. avoid the greater amounts of money, time, energy and stress consumed by a contested divorce (in the highly unlikely event of your divorce, of course);
4. have greater control over your financial matters, whether or not a divorce is in your future;
5. have greater peace of mind about your financial matters in the face of the uncertain future;
DO definitely make a Prenuptial Agreement if you are planning to legally marry and have one or more of the following:
3. Children from another relationship (including but not limited to another marriage).
[Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither HandelontheLaw.com, or any of its affiliates, shall have any liability stemming from this article.]
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.
FAMILY LAW DOS AND DON'TS