Who Needs a Prenup?
Marriage is supposed to last forever, but for some couples, divorce, not death, separates them. Fortunately, the divorce rate has decreased in recent years, but it was still around 15% in 2019.
To reduce pain and expense in the event of an unlikely event, talk to your future spouse about a prenuptial agreement.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is short for "prenuptial agreement," which is a legal contract that a couple signs before getting married. It is the terms and conditions described by the couple that determine what happens to the assets and income in the event of divorce or even death.
While some people may believe that prenuptial agreements are for wealthy couples, anyone can set the terms of a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is not created with the expectation of divorce, but to be protected in the event that this happens.
How does a prenuptial agreement work?
Each state has its own requirements and procedures for handling prenuptial agreements. For example, not all states have child support obligations. Prenuptial agreements can include:
- Assets and income of children from a previous marriage
- Separation of marital assets and separate asset management
- Property plans
- Business ownership (either a spouse or business division between the two parties)
- Debt liabilities and financial obligations
Child support is not determined in prenuptial agreements; that goes through the courts.
If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement, you should seek out an experienced marriage law attorney in your state. Costs can vary depending on where you live, your needs, and the attorney you hire. If you don't have many assets or specific requests, it may take a few days to write a deal. If you have a lot of requests, it may take a few weeks or months to figure it out. Lawyers generally charge by the hour, so the longer it takes, the more the prenuptial agreement will cost.
Prenuptial agreements can be specific or general as desired. If you own a home before you get married, you can state in your prenuptial agreement that you will keep the property after the divorce. If you are the main breadwinner in the family, your future partner can request spousal support in the prenuptial agreement.
If you have pets or plan to acquire them when you get married, you can cover this in your contract. In most states, pets are considered property. Without a prenuptial agreement, ownership can be determined by whoever pays the adoption fees, for example.
There is no one size fits all prenup, but couples can make as many requests as they want.
When writing a prenuptial agreement, you can include specific provisions: for example, if your spouse is having an affair that ends the marriage, you may be entitled to a different agreement than if you were divorced for other reasons.
Once both parties agree, they will sign the document before signing the marriage contract. If a couple wants to get married and then sign a similar contract, they can enter into a post-nuptial agreement.
Cons and Pros
- Financial transparency: Many couples are uncomfortable talking about money. Whether it's debt, wealth, or even credit scores, finances are a sore subject. Having a prenuptial agreement requires couples to discuss money thoroughly. Before you get married, you will see how your partner handles financial obligations.
- Prepare for the worst: Most people get married waiting a lifetime for their partner. But it is realistic to think that even if it never happens, divorce is possible. A prenuptial agreement gives you a clear result if you get divorced.
- Protect your property and valuables: In essence, a prenuptial agreement should protect your things (and those of your future spouse). If you have something that you don't want your spouse to have if they separate, enter into a prenuptial agreement. It also protects you from your spouse. For example, if your spouse is in debt or runs a business that you do not want to be liable for in the event of legal action, you can detail this in your prenuptial agreement.
- Modifiable: You can make changes to your prenuptial agreement after you get married, as long as both parties agree. You can also cancel your prenuptial agreement.
- It can be biased: Sometimes prenuptial agreements can favor a spouse with more money or possessions. If you don't have your own attorney to review it, you may not know what you are looking for. In the event of a divorce, you can be held responsible for something you did not know about.
- It may sound insulting: some people are offended by a prenup. Marriage must be done for love, so why should a business contract enter the picture? Be aware of how your partner will react when you broach the subject.
- It can be upsetting: a prenuptial agreement clarifies the terms in the event of a divorce or separation. Thinking about and carefully considering the end of the marriage when it is just beginning can be depressing at best.
Who is a prenuptial agreement best for?
While a prenup is not for everyone, you may find that getting one is better than not getting one.
You are a business owner: If you are a business owner, you may want a prenuptial agreement to protect your business and your share of equity in the event of a divorce.
You have children from another company: If you have children to whom you want to transfer assets, a prenuptial agreement protects the items you want your children to have or keep in the event of a divorce.
You have assets you want to keep: A prenuptial agreement specifically states what you and your spouse agree to keep for yourself (and give up).
You want to control your future: even if you do not have much assets or income at the moment, you can define how the items you can acquire will be handled in the event of a divorce.
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