A prenuptial agreement sometimes is seen as an inducement to divorce and a cynical way to enter marriage. However, done right, these agreements potentially can eliminate gray areas of family law by allowing couples to plan their future with more security.
Although it acknowledges the possibility of divorce, the lack of one invites potential complexity and injustice if a marriage does not work out.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
Essentially, a prenuptial agreement is a contract. Like any contract, there are defined principles that both parties must follow.
What the document controls is up to the parties entering into the agreement. Most people think of these contracts in terms of money, but there is no requirement that the agreement only controls finances.
A prenuptial agreement works like an insurance policy. It typically lists the property each person owns and specifies what each individual’s property rights will be in the event of divorce.
Other items frequently covered include:
- Distinctions between marital and community property
- Protection against the other spouse’s debt
- Provisions concerning children from previous relationships
- Protections for estate plans
- Protections for inheritances or other types of family assets
Do I need a prenuptial agreement?
In general, there are four factors to consider when deciding whether you should pursue a prenuptial agreement:
- Age of the parties: the older you are, the more likely you need one.
- Children from a previous relationship: a prenuptial agreement is always a good tool to protect the financial future of children from prior marriages or relationships, but these agreements do not regulate issues relating to children of the future marriage, such as child custody.
- Substantial assets: the more assets you have, the more likely you need one.
- Disparity of assets: if there is a large disparity in assets between the two parties, then a prenuptial agreement is necessary.
How to get a prenuptial agreement
If you elect to pursue a prenuptial agreement, it is important that each party be represented by a separate attorney to prevent a conflict of interest.
In addition to a divorce attorney well-versed in men’s rights and fathers’ rights, it is beneficial to enlist the services of a CPA or other financial advisor to ensure the parties understand the long-term financial consequences of the agreements.
For help setting up a prenuptial agreement so that you and your spouse are protected, contact Cordell & Cordell.