What to Consider When Drafting a Prenuptial Agreement

When couples agree to marry, the last thing they want to think about is the possibility of death or divorce. Although extremely common (40-50% of marriages end with separation), it’s understandable that divorce is not an ideal concern when planning a ceremony, reception and honeymoon. However, it’s important to consider separation as a possibility and prepare a prenuptial agreement.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

Simply put, a prenuptial agreement is a contract between two married people. This document specifies the assets each party has going into the marriage and how each party’s property rights will be negotiated if a divorce is filed.

Prenuptial agreements are also important if one of the spouses dies. The record ensures that the deceased’s property rights and assets are protected. Basically, in the event of a worse-case scenario, the prenup protects your belongings and finances.

Many people confuse prenuptial agreements with child custody. A prenuptial agreement cannot determine custody or solve child related issues. This is instead handled in court.

What to Consider

If you’ve decided that drafting a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your partner, there are several things to ensure that your property and finances are thoroughly sorted in the agreement. Preparation will save you grief later in the event of divorce.

Finances

This is one of the most important aspects of a prenuptial agreement because it separates what money specifically belongs to you. Even if you are the lead financial supporter of your family and want to protect your earnings after the divorce, your money will become marital property that your partner becomes entitled to. In most states a prenuptial agreement can limit the amount of alimony that is payable due to divorce.

Prenuptial Agreements also benefit those who make less money than their partners. If you specify in your agreement that you need to be compensated by your partner following a divorce, nothing can alter that aspect of the contract when things get messy. You immediately become entitled to whatever conditions you and your partner agreed upon.

Handling of Estate

A prenuptial agreement ensures that the handling of your estate is strict and enforced. In the event of your death, you can outline how you would like your estate to be divided up and who will receive your property.

If you envision how you would like to divide up your belongings but didn’t specify your concerns in a prenuptial agreement, the court will determine that for you. If you want your spouse to determine this responsibility for you, it’s important to detail that in your agreement.

Business Ownership

If you’re a business owner, the prenuptial agreement prevents your spouse from receiving interest in your company. If you have shareholders, they will most likely require you to draft an agreement regardless, so their stake in the business is protected as well. You will save your partners a lot of grief by arranging your business assets ahead of time.

Expert Legal Advice

If you believe that drafting a detailed prenuptial agreement will be best for your marriage, you must consult with a matrimonial law professional to make your arrangements binding. A lawyer is responsible for ensuring that all of your concerns are met, and that the agreement is drafted properly and consensually. They will understand the procedure as well as the specific laws in your state.

If possible, hire an independent counsel that oversees the process so that both parties are equally represented. If your prenuptial agreement must be analyzed in court because of a later discrepancy, your independent counsel will vouch for you and dodge opposing legal teams that don’t want the best for each spouse.

A prenuptial agreement is secure and protective measure against the mishandling or loss of your property rights. However drafting the agreement is still a complicated process and should be addressed with a lawyer or legal team before any decisions are made. If you need help with a prenuptial agreement and have questions regarding the process, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  It’s a legal team’s job to sort through your concerns, so you can enjoy your marriage while also benefiting from future security.

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