Prenuptial Agreement 101

by Frank

A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a legal document created before marriage to define what happens in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. Most people don’t like to consider the ending of a marriage before it’s even begun, but there can be many times where prenups are a valuable thing to have in place.

What is a Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document outlining certain, very specific things about what happens if the marriage ends in divorce. It may specify, for example, the division of property or debts, providing for children from previous relationships, protecting an estate plan, or keeping family property in the family.

It cannot include things like child custody or support for children resulting from the marriage, waiving the right to alimony, encouraging divorce or illegal activity, or create rules regarding things like who does what chores or specifying how to raise the children.

Benefits of a Prenup

Prenup benefits are numerous. A prenup can protect the inheritance and interests of children or grandchildren from a previous relationship, your interests in a business, protect you from debt your soon-to-be spouse has incurred, and protect the wealth of older persons or people who have a considerable amount of wealth. It can also make sure you are compensated if you give up a lucrative career and the marriage doesn’t last, and limit the amount of alimony that can be ordered.

Creation of Prenups

Prenups must be created before the marriage occurs to be valid. They must be in writing and signed by both spouses before the wedding. They cannot be signed under pressure, and can be invalidated if one spouse can prove they didn’t read it before signing it. It can’t contain any invalid provisions, false information, or incomplete information, and you must have time to review and consider it before you sign it.

Who Should Have a Prenup?

People who own a lot of real estate, have a lot of money, have children from previous relationships they wish to provide for, or have a business that they want to protect in the event of a divorce should all consider a prenup. Prenups can benefit almost anyone.

Even if you and your spouse are not wealthy, you likely still need a prenup. The prenup benefits not only your spouse, but you, too. The agreement not only considers your current income, but can also protect your future income. If you start a business in the future or inherit any assets, the right agreement can protect them.

A prenuptial agreement can also establish what each spouse is entitled to when it comes to spousal support. If your marriage does end, you and your spouse can refer to the agreement to determine what should be paid in support.

Most importantly, a prenup can help to open communications with your future spouse about your finances. It is a chance to eliminate any misunderstandings regarding finances that could have an impact on your marriage later.

You and your soon-to-be spouse can learn more about prenuptial agreements and the benefits of having one by discussing it with an experienced family attorney. At the least, you can explore whether having a prenup is ideal for both of you.

A prenup may seem very unromantic, but it’s a valid way to protect yourself. While no one likes to think their marriage will end, it happens. A prenup ensures you aren’t harmed more than necessary by it.

If you need legal assistance you can also find additional legal aid here and you can search for a lawyer here.