A prenuptial agreement is a legal document a couple voluntarily enters into before marriage. It describes in detail the financial and property arrangements that will exist between the spouses. It details, too, other matters pertaining to the couple, and spells out what happens to their assets should the marriage end in divorce.
While prenuptial agreements are more and more commonplace these days, it does not mean you should automatically enter into such a contract. If you and your future partner are even considering drawing up these papers, it may be a good idea to weigh the pros and cons.
A prenuptial agreement lets you focus on important issues.
Making up a prenup compels you and your soon to be spouse to carefully consider important economic and non-economic issues that will eventually need to be dealt with when the marriage comes about. These include finances, legal issues, families, future plans, and dreams. A good family lawyer can help with this.
It protects children from a previous relationship.
A prenuptial agreement allows you to protect your child’s rights to a portion of your estate and to his or her inheritance in the event of divorce or death.
It protects family money.
Prenups are often drafted when either spouse has a wealthy family or runs a family business. A prenuptial agreement allows family homes, businesses, heirlooms, and other legacies to stay within the family.
It protects assets accumulated prior to the marriage.
If you are older or have been married previously, you may feel the need to secure your assets before walking down the aisle a second time. A prenuptial agreement will not only protect the assets that you currently have, but will also set guidelines for assets obtained during the course of the marriage.
It reduces conflict and saves money.
In the event of a divorce, a well-drafted prenuptial agreement will save you from arguing over particular issues that may have been agreed upon previously, as well as save you a hefty amount of money on legal costs.
A prenuptial agreement isn’t romantic.
There’s little romance involved in getting a prenuptial agreement and talking about the possibility of divorce. Remember, prenups only come into play in the case of a dissolution.
Trust issues can be brought up
Discussing a prenup is especially hard to do if only one spouse wants it. By asking for a prenuptial agreement, you may be suggesting to your spouse in a subtle way that your marriage may fail one day or that you are uninterested in fighting for your marriage if things become difficult.
It may be too early.
The need for a prenuptial agreement may be a matter of timing. For many younger couples, a prenup is unnecessary if both partners have not acquired a substantial amount of assets or property.
It can be an added burden if circumstances change.
If conditions change, you will need to update your prenuptial agreement just as you would update your will, life insurance policy, and any other contracts.
Prenups are subject to the judge’s opinion.
If you take your prenup to court, it is in the judge’s discretion to determine the lawfulness of each clause. If the judge thinks that a portion or even all of the agreement is unreasonable, then they may decide to rule against it in its entirety.