You’re getting ready for the biggest commitment you’ve ever made – marriage. In the midst of looking at venues, discussing guest lists, and figuring out what to serve for dinner, don’t forget to consider your legal needs during this stage of life. For many couples, this means looking into a prenuptial agreement. You may wonder if you even need a prenuptial agreement if you aren’t worth several million dollars, but the fact is, prenuptial agreements aren’t just for those with sizable assets.
Learn more about the benefits of a prenuptial agreement and how you can use this tool to prepare for married life. To discuss your legal needs in greater detail, call Coumanis & York at 251-990-3083.
Who Benefits from a Prenuptial Agreement
A wide range of individuals and couples can benefit from prenuptial agreements. While some people view these contracts as only suitable for those who are planning for divorce, prenuptial agreements can actually be used to set healthy boundaries and give both parties peace of mind. Consider the benefits of a prenup in the following situations:
- You or your partner have a contentious divorce in your past and you are scared of having a repeat of that situation
- You have children from a previous relationship and you want to ensure that your assets are protected for them, rather than going to your partner if a divorce occurs
- You own your own business or part of a family business and want to ensure that you maintain control over these assets
- Either you or your partner expect to receive an inheritance and you want to protect it if divorce should occur
- There is a significant earning disparity, and the higher-earning partner wants to feel secure that they are not being used for their money
- There is a significant earning disparity, and the lower-earning spouse wants to know that they will be financially provided for if they plan on becoming a stay-at-home partner or parent
What Can Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement…
A prenuptial agreement can be fairly flexible in the issues it includes. The main goal of most prenuptial agreements is to outline how a couple’s finances will be affected if they divorce. The contract may include information on how specific assets will be divided, who will take on certain debts, and how much spousal support will be paid. The agreement should also clarify what assets and debts each party brought into the marriage to make it clear that those assets and debts will be kept separate if a divorce occurs.
A thorough agreement can also include information on how future debts and assets will be handled if the couple divorces. For example, it may state that any credit card debt accumulated during the marriage is to be the responsibility of one party or is to be split 50/50. It may also address future retirement accounts or earnings and how those assets are to be split.
…and What Cannot
However, remember that a prenuptial agreement isn’t a catch-all contract for your marriage and divorce. The main things that cannot be included in a prenup are child custody and child support. These are considered separate issues involving a third party whose rights cannot be overridden by a contract. When a couple divorces, the court has the right to make custody and child support decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child. A prenup cannot take away that right.
A prenup is also not the correct forum to outline the day-to-day life of your marriage. You can’t use it to decide who will do which chores, how much time will be spent with each set of in-laws, and other personal non-financial issues.
Enforceable and Non-Enforceable Prenuptial Agreements
Before a court will execute the terms of a prenup, it will determine whether or not the contract is enforceable. Both parties must fully disclose all of their assets and debts, as any hidden information is cause for the contract to be voided.
The party responsible for drafting the prenuptial agreement must give the other party the chance to have the document reviewed with their own attorney. If they do not give them that chance, it is unlikely that the document will be enforceable. The other party doesn’t have to have the document reviewed—they just need the opportunity.
Explore Your Options with Coumanis & York
If you’re still wondering if a prenuptial agreement is the right move for you, let’s set up a time to talk. Call Coumanis & York at 251-990-3083 or get in touch with us online to learn more about your options.