A prenuptial agreement can offer tremendous peace of mind in some circumstances, but future newlyweds should broach the idea of a pre-nup with care. Suggesting a prenuptial agreement to some people can carry an undertone of suspicion that the marriage will fail, so it’s wise to approach the subject tactfully. Marriage is a business relationship in many ways, and a prenuptial agreement can help outline each spouse’s obligations for maintaining such a relationship.
Best Practices for Prenuptial Agreements
The best decision you can make regarding a potential prenuptial agreement is hiring a family law attorney to help you draft your agreement. Your attorney will help you ensure the agreement meets all applicable laws and regulations, and covers the items that most concern you, such as inheritance rights and grounds for divorce.
If you own substantial assets and property, a prenuptial agreement can protect some of those assets from division in divorce, should one occur. Before signing your prenuptial agreement, make sure you’ve had an accountant or financial auditor review which assets the agreement should cover. This is especially true if you own a business, as your prenuptial agreement can protect the business from any division of assets in a divorce.
Your attorney or financial advisor can also help you determine other financial protections that could benefit you or your spouse. For example, if one spouse has significantly more debt than the other, the prenuptial agreement can ensure that the debt-free spouse isn’t responsible for the other spouse’s debts should the marriage end.
Ultimately, the best way to approach a prenuptial agreement draft is to consider the various financial concerns you have and have your attorney draft an agreement that covers them succinctly. Your prenuptial agreement can not only dictate financial obligations for you and your spouse, but also outline decision-making authority, responsibility for household chores and maintenance, and outline the terms of spousal support should the marriage end.
Things to Avoid with Prenuptial Agreements
Just as there are many things you want to be sure to include in your prenuptial agreement, there are also a few practices you should avoid. It’s important to avoid signing away your rights with a prenuptial agreement. For example, an agreement may stipulate that you would receive nothing in spousal support should the marriage end. If your spouse earns more money than you or you are unemployed, the end of the marriage could spell financial doom for you.
It’s also important to avoid being too picky about the contents of your prenuptial agreement. This can easily turn off your soon-to-be spouse because he or she will assume you have little faith in the marriage if you’re taking great strides to protect your own interests. It’s also wise to avoid planning too far into the future. While you can always revisit a prenuptial agreement later to make adjustments, remember that attitudes and relationships can easily change over time.
Most couples draw up their prenuptial agreements relatively early in their relationship. During the “honeymoon” phase, affection can blind a spouse to potential pitfalls down the road and spur him or her to signing away rights to things that may not matter much now, but will matter tremendously later.
If you are considering a prenuptial agreement for an impending marriage but aren’t sure if it would be right in your situation, ask an attorney for advice. Prenuptial agreements are often useful for people entering second or third marriages, for people who have children from previous marriages, or anyone else who has assets. They are also useful for wealthy individuals who earned their fortunes prior to falling in love, and they can be a realistic means of managing the financial aspects of a marriage.