While some couples view prenuptial agreements as unromantic, such an agreement can be a helpful tool in the event of divorce. A carefully crafted prenup can protect your separate property, define what is considered marital or community property, and clarify any special agreements between spouses. And contrary to popular opinion, prenups are not just for wealthy couples.
BASIC FACTS ABOUT PRENUPS
- Both parties must understand their rights and what they may be giving up, if anything, they must have time to deliberate, and they must have equal bargaining power (either both parties have an attorney, or neither party has an attorney).
- A prenup typically lists all the property each person owns, as well as any debts, and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after they are married.
- Couples with children from previous marriages may use a prenup to spell out what should happen to their property when they die, so that they can pass on separate property to their children and still provide for the surviving spouse.
- Other couples may want to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities during marriage to avoid potential arguments should they ever divorce, by specifying in advance how their property would be divided. Communicating about money matters before you enter marriage can actually improve the quality of your marriage.
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A PRENUP
- Keep your finances separate.
- Protect one or both of you from the other person’s debts.
- Provide for children from prior relationships.
- Pass on family property.
- Define who gets what if you divorce.
- Clarify each person’s responsibilities during the marriage.
WHAT YOU CANNOT DO WITH A PRENUP
- Write an agreement that violates public policy: any agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
- Waive spousal support or child support or promote divorce.
- Anticipate every possible contingency that might arise during your marriage.
- Try to avoid disclosing the true value or your assets and debts.
To receive a copy of our prenup decision-making tool, or to schedule your free 25-minute consultation, please contact us.