Many people think that a prenuptial agreement means that a couple is planning to divorce before they even get married. In fact, just the opposite is true: A well-crafted prenuptial agreement means that a couple has discussed and agreed on major issues, such as money management and use of separate property, before embarking on marriage. Clarifying values and expectations in this way avoids unpleasant surprises for both parties after marriage, and paves the way for a successful relationship. Of course, if divorce should occur, having a prenuptial agreement or “prenup” in place means less fighting; division of assets in divorce is governed by a good prenuptial agreement.
Virtually any couple can benefit from a prenup, but they are particularly useful in second marriages where there are children from a first marriage, or when one or both parties are bringing a substantial amount of assets to the marriage. The prenuptial agreement can specify what assets will be considered separate, and which are marital and subject to division in case of a divorce. The agreement can also address how the couple will deal with debt that each of them brings into the marriage, expectations about roles (e.g., will one partner stay home and raise future children?) and spousal support in the event of divorce.
Prenuptial agreements don’t cover every possible issue of concern. Issues like child custody and child support must be decided based on the best interests of the children. Therefore, provisions in a prenup having to deal with such matters typically are not enforceable.
A prenup requires more than a couple of signatures in order to be valid. The parties should make full disclosure to each other about their existing property and any other matters covered by the agreement. The agreement must not be made under duress, such as one party threatening to call off the wedding unless the other party signs. Of course, the agreement must not conflict with applicable state law. To avoid problems, it’s important that each party have their own attorney review the prenup. And to prevent a later argument that the agreement was made under duress, it’s ideal to have it signed well before the wedding date.
Marriage is a journey, and as with any journey, it’s wise to consider where you want to go and how you want to get there before you begin. If you think that you and your future spouse might benefit from a prenuptial agreement, contact our office today to learn how we can help you. For a free consultation, fill out our contact form, or call us at (312) 564-5743.