Prenuptial Agreements

How do we prepare for marriage? Marriage is a financial partnership, and most of us don’t think to get legal advice about the implications before we say “I do.” What questions would we ask if we did?

  • Will my fiancé’s debts become mine after we marry?
  • How will we share responsibility for household bills?
  • Should we combine all of our earnings and savings into joint accounts or keep them separate?
  • If my husband doesn’t report all of his business income on our joint income tax returns, will I be responsible for his omission?
  • If I inherit money from my parents, will my wife be entitled to half of it if she and I divorce?

And even if you ask these questions and are satisfied with the answers, what happens if you move to another state? Do any of the answers change? Divorce laws differ from state to state.

Prenuptial agreements (also called premarital agreements) are sensible documents to prepare and enter into for some couples who plan to marry. If you have dependent children and plan to marry someone who is not that child’s parent, that you should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement to ensure that you can still provide for your children in the event of death or divorce. If you started a business well before the marriage, perhaps you want to identify that business as a separate asset and protect it from division in the event of divorce. Perhaps you expect to inherit a significant sum, and you want to make sure it wouldn’t be divided in the event of divorce.

Prenuptial agreements address financial issues between the parties in the event of divorce or death. If after divorce or death, your spouse challenges the validity of the prenuptial agreement, the Court will determine its validity and enforceability. There are certain requirements that need to be met in order for a Court to enforce a prenuptial agreement, so don’t complete an online form and think you’re covered. Seek advice from a qualified, experienced domestic relations attorney to advise you and to draft the prenuptial agreement and don’t sign one presented to you without legal advice. Begin the prenuptial agreement process several months before the wedding, these agreements take time and thought to complete. Obtain expert legal advice about the financial and legal consequences of a marriage before planning a wedding. Get clear with your future spouse about your shared financial goals before you marry.  Consider whether a prenuptial agreement makes sense for your new marital partnership.

July 2014