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What Can and Cannot be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

Posted on October 16th, 2017

Although prenuptial agreements have a somewhat negative reputation, these agreements serve many important purposes and can provide a marrying couple with peace of mind. Generally, prenuptial agreements are crucial for wealthy individuals or people who own many assets or businesses, but you don’t have to be rich to need a prenup. Prenuptial agreements protect spouses and their children in the event the marriage dissolves, but there are limits to what may be included in a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial Agreements Offer Detailed Protection

Some prenuptial agreements help manage property for people who have married more than once. After remarrying, there may be some questions about property inheritance for children from a previous marriage. A prenuptial agreement can help by legally defining children’s inheritance rights following the new marriage. For example, imagine a couple is marrying soon and the husband has two children from a previous marriage and quite a large amount of assets and wealth. He may wish to have a prenuptial agreement that outlines his first two children’s inheritance rights to his assets in the event of his death, the end of the second marriage, or if he has more children with his new wife.

A prenuptial agreement can also help keep heirlooms or family property within a family. One spouse may want the agreement to state his or her family property or heirlooms remain his or her property should the marriage dissolve. The agreement may also include provisions for separating the marrying couple’s property and defining which property they will share. These provisions may also help protect one spouse from the other’s debts.

Some marrying couples may have vast wealth, operate businesses, or own property that requires careful attention. A prenuptial agreement can also outline each spouse’s responsibilities during a marriage, including:

· Who will own and operate the couple’s business ventures.

· Disbursement of retirement benefits.

· Guidance for tax filings.

· Managing household expenses.

· Defining personal spending limits.

· Contributions to shared savings.

· How the couple will resolve conflicts, such as through mediation or arbitration.

What Can’t a Prenuptial Agreement Include?

There are limits to what you can include in a prenuptial agreement. The judge who reviews a prenuptial agreement may throw out some provisions or the entire agreement if it includes any of the following:

· Anything pertaining to illegal activity.

· Child custody provisions. The court has the final say when it comes to child support because they are public policy issues.

· Alimony waivers. A prenuptial agreement should not include any provisions that require one spouse to waive his or her rights to alimony.

· Incentives for divorce. A prenuptial agreement cannot include any verbiage that incentivizes the couple toward divorce.

· Personal rules. Prenuptial agreements cover financial matters, not personal ones. A prenuptial agreement cannot outline personal behavior such as child rearing preferences, relationships with relatives, household chores, or other personal matters.

Pennsylvania is a bit different than most other states when it comes to prenuptial agreements. The state views these agreements as business contracts between equal parties and generally allows couples to agree to whatever provisions they deem appropriate, as long as all their financial records are in order, there is no fraud, misrepresentation, or signs of duress.

Anyone who believes a prenuptial agreement could be beneficial should speak with an experienced family law attorney. The right attorney can help draft a fair, reasonable, and legally sound prenuptial agreement that is mutually acceptable to both marrying spouses. Having a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can provide peace of mind and financial security for the future, regardless of how big your bank account is.