If you are in a relationship that seems headed towards marriage, there’s a good chance that you need a prenuptial agreement. Though some people think that prenups are only for the very wealthy, or that they somehow belie the romantic ideals of marriage, the truth is that there are multiple reasons why they can be a good idea for both members of a couple.
If your objection to the idea of a prenuptial agreement is that you don’t want to consider the idea that your marriage might end, you may be cheating yourself of both protection of the things you own or might inherit in case your marriage does end in divorce. You also may be setting yourself up for a significantly more adversarial process. By sitting down and hashing out an agreement while your relationship is at its strongest, you are much more likely to end up with something that is fair. You also end up having a much more realistic understanding of your future spouse’s financial assets and outlook, and the ability to go into a divorce with realistic expectations of what the distribution of assets will be.
The most common and obvious reason for having a prenuptial agreement is where one or both future spouses own assets prior to the marriage taking place. This is true whether those assets are personal or part of a business: having a comprehensive inventory of those things that belong to each of you — and that you’d want to hold onto should the marriage end — is essential.
Prenuptial agreements do not only address the issue of premarital assets. They also spell out the division (or not) of future assets or revenue, whether spousal support or life insurance benefits will be provided upon death, as well as indicating the disposition of any inheritance that either party might have received during the course of the marriage. Though those assets generally are co-mingled during the marriage and legally viewed as marital assets, a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can preserve each individual’s ownership of those assets should the marriage end.
Finally, even couples who are very evenly matched financially may want to negotiate a prenuptial agreement if they have children from a previous marriage or are older and concerned about their ability to afford long-term care in case of a divorce. Interestingly, it is the couples who have already gone through adversarial divorces who are often the biggest proponents of having a prenuptial agreement in place. These individuals recognize the protections that these agreements provide and often encourage younger couples to look beyond their initial objections and work together to create an agreement that they are both comfortable with.
If you are planning on getting married, speaking with an attorney about crafting or reviewing a prenuptial agreement makes good sense. Contact our family law attorneys today to set up an appointment to discuss your specific needs.