When you’re getting married, the last thing you want to think about is splitting up.

This is especially true if you’re getting married for the first time. No one ever said prenuptial agreements were sexy.

But for people who have already been through a marriage or two, they understand the importance of drafting a prenup agreement.

Creating a prenuptial agreement is an important way to protect your assets and financial interests.

Without one, your financial future is left up to the state.

But do you really need one? How do they work?

What is a prenup?

The prenup definition is pretty similar across the board but the meaning of a prenup depends upon your specific situation and what you decide in the agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract you create with your partner before marriage.

It determines what will happen to your property and assets in the unfortunate event of a divorce, separation, or death.

People tend to forget that when you enter a marriage, everything you own becomes common property. This can become a costly and bitter process should a separation occur.

A prenuptial agreement sets specific financial boundaries.

Who needs a prenup agreement?

Most people think prenuptial contracts are only for the super wealthy or folks with significant assets.

The truth is, everyone should consider their financial future before entering a marriage.

In many cases, both spouses work full time and accumulate their own assets. That’s why it’s important to develop a detailed financial agreement before signing a marriage license.

What are the pros and cons of drafting a prenuptial contact?

While financial planning is important, a prenuptial contract may not be right for every situation. And of course, it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges.

Disadvantages

  • It’s uncomfortable. Bringing up the idea of creating a prenuptial contract could send the message that you don’t fully trust your partner.
  • It takes extra time and resources. Planning a wedding is already time consuming enough without adding prenuptial financial planning and extra meetings with lawyers.
  • It may not be necessary. Many young couples may not have much in the way of financial assets because they are still planning their lives. This could make it difficult to draft an appropriate contract.
  • There’s limits. Things like child support cannot be listed in a prenuptial agreement. Each state has different limitations for what can and can’t be resolved through a prenuptial agreement.

Advantages

  • It saves money and time later. Working out the details during a divorce or separation can be expensive and take a long time to finalize.
  • It protects (all) property. This, of course, includes the home and personal assets. However, it also includes businesses as well as intellectual property.
  • It determines debt responsibility. Yes, debt is a form of property. If your partner has financial debt prior to entering the marriage, a prenuptial contract can help save your own credit. A contract can also dictate responsibility should one party accumulate debt during the marriage.
  • It can be unique. Depending on what your state allows, you can include special provisions and other requests in the agreement. This could include your financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage as well.

What happens without a prenuptial agreement?

prenup agreementWithout a prenup agreement, your marriage essentially becomes the property contract. Once you enter a marriage, all the property you acquire during the marriage is shared equally between both partners.

In some cases, this can also include the property you acquired prior to the marriage.

During a separation or divorce, the court will look at both spouse’s situations and split up the property evenly. The judge takes many factors into consideration before making this decision.

The meaning of a prenup is to protect the assets of both you and your partner. Otherwise that decision is left up to the state.

When most people think of a pre-marriage contract, they already think of their property but every relationship and financial situation is unique. Some lesser known circumstances could include:

  • Debt incurred by one partner during the marriage. Who bears responsibility?
  • Children from a previous marriage. Will their inheritance or assets be protected in the event of a divorce or separation?
  • Businesses and intellectual property. Do you plan on starting a business together? How will you manage the company and finances? Who gains control of any intellectual property you create?

Can a prenuptial agreement be broken?

This particular type of contract is never set-in-stone. Several situations can cause the court to toss out the agreement. Although these agreements can be broken, it’s still better to have one than not if you face divorce or separation down the road.

  • It was signed too close to the wedding date. Both parties need adequate time to absorb and agree to the terms.
  • The agreement was signed without any lawyers present.
  • One party was coerced into signing the agreement.
  • The language on the agreement isn’t legally sound or open to interpretation.

How to get started

Prenuptial agreements are more popular than ever. No matter the gender, most marriages include equal financial obligations and responsibilities.

It’s fairly easy to draft up a contract at home on your own terms before bringing it to a lawyer. Although these contracts are much more common now than in the past, the courts still read over them carefully.

  • Be honest with your partner. Discuss your financial needs and potential career plans for the future. How will you divide future assets?
  • Make sure your agreement is easy to understand and legally sound. Don’t use ambiguous language or leave things open to interpretation.
  • Each spouse should take their prenup agreement to a separate lawyer to ensure everything is in order and offer advice.

If you’re engaged, it’s important to develop a prenup as soon as possible. Meet with a qualified attorney to discuss your personal situation and go over your options.

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