Your wedding is approaching! With all the excitement and chaos, the last thing on your mind, perhaps, is signing a prenuptial agreement. While it may be difficult to initially broach the subject with your soon-to-be spouse, a prenup is an important insurance policy for both partners that is best entered into when the level of respect and love for one another is highest. Most couples benefit from a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Individuals with high net worth, complex assets, disparity in income, or who are entering a marriage that will create a blended family should seriously consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
This is a sensitive subject with many couples, but it is a practical matter that can save both parties considerable stress and money if they divorce or separate. There are numerous benefits to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Discussing the terms of property division and spousal support now will prevent the need to make those decisions when you are emotional and under stress. In addition, a properly drafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement will prevent the need for lengthy, expensive divorce litigation if the relationship ends.
How prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can protect you
How do you protect your interests with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? Each party needs his or her own lawyer to ensure that the agreement is fair. No matter how straightforward it may seem, you do not want to enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement without legal representation.
Prenuptial agreements can be used to determine the terms of spousal support and property rights. You may specify that certain pieces of property remain separate after the marriage, regardless of how it is maintained during the marriage. If you have retirement assets or expect to have retirement assets, you may want to spell out how, or if, they will be divided if the marriage does not work out. These agreements can also set aside specific assets for children.
When one or both people in the relationship have high net worth, your lawyer may work with financial experts to ensure that there are no hidden assets. A full and fair disclosure of assets is required for prenuptial and postnuptial agreements when they are drafted. Otherwise, they will not be valid and will not provide the protection you seek.
Debts that either person brings to the marriage may also be part of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You may specify that each person's debts remain with that person.
Generally, a prenuptial agreement is not the place to spell out agreements relating to custody and access, or for child support. You may include such provisions, but the court will decide these matters based on the circumstances at the time of the divorce or separation.