Marriage is a thrilling time for any couple, as two people plan to embark on an exciting new chapter together. Getting married is a big step in a relationship, but it is also a life-changing and legally binding event that should be entered into thoughtfully and with all the facts available to you.
One important question to ask before getting married is whether you should create a prenuptial agreement. No couple wants to think about divorce prior to getting married, but prenuptial agreements can be beneficial in case of a split as a tool to help protect each person’s interests.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, or a “prenup,” is a legal document that outlines how assets and liabilities will be divided in a divorce. Many view prenups as negative, but they can be quite beneficial if executed correctly.
While some feel that a prenuptial agreement can take the romance out of the situation, indeed, it can be the opposite. It’s an opportunity for you and your spouse-to-be to outline your wishes on the financial aspects of a marriage without being in the midst of a possibly emotional divorce situation.
This can alleviate some of the financial strife of divorce by ensuring both parties are clear on how assets will be divided and cut down on legal fees from mediation if a couple cannot reach an agreement during divorce proceedings.
Why do I need a prenuptial agreement?
Typically prenuptial contracts have been thought of as something only the uber-wealthy need, but that’s not the case. Many modern couples can also benefit from having a prenuptial agreement.
Prenups help prevent disputes over property and assets during a divorce. This is especially important if either spouse comes into the marriage with significant assets, such as wealth, property, or a business.
Prenuptial agreements can also be used to outline child custody and support arrangements, protect spouses from debts that were held before the marriage, or protect inheritances for children from previous marriages.
What if I don’t have a prenup?
If there is no prior agreement in place in the case of a divorce, the state’s laws will determine how property is divided, utilizing the state’s standard property rights for married couples.
Typically this means that any assets accumulated during the marriage are to be divided equally, though the exact guidelines can vary from state to state.
Creating a prenup
It is important that you seek professional legal help when drafting a prenuptial agreement to ensure that an agreement will be considered valid if it should be reviewed in court.
A court will examine whether the agreement is unfair or made under coercion and can invalidate the agreement if it appears that either party entered the agreement under duress or undue pressure. Each party should have their own legal representation to ensure that their interests are represented fairly and communicated clearly. An experienced lawyer can also help guide you through the process to ensure that you have the proper documentation in place.
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When it comes to family law and estate planning, experience matters. For decades, Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri has been helping individuals and families with complex family law and estate planning matters. We’re proud to serve the Bay Area and provide our clients with the highest level of legal care possible.