Prenuptial Agreements

Overview

Prenuptial agreements are appropriate planning tools for many couples, providing an opportunity to resolve financial matters before they become an issue.  Such an arrangement made prior to marriage allows for an objective, thoughtful decision process.  Having a plan in place should a marriage unravel avoids bitter disputes later on, and minimizes future costs associated with property distribution and other issues.

How long before the wedding should I talk about a prenuptial agreement with my fiancé?

Ideally, a couple should have a conversation about a prenuptial agreement as far in advance of the wedding as possible. The closer the wedding date, the more pressure a person may feel to sign an agreement. A person could say that he or she signed under duress, which, if proven, could invalidate the document. The goal is to have plenty of time to calmly talk through these issues, negotiate the agreement, disclose assets and liabilities, and allow both parties the opportunity to have legal representation well in advance of the nuptials.

Can I draft my own prenuptial agreement?

It is not unheard of for individuals to draft their own prenuptial agreements; however, using another person’s agreement as a sample or finding a sample online to draft another agreement may not result in the desired outcome. It is very important to consult with an attorney regarding these issues to ensure that the agreement is drafted in the proper way and to maximize the validity and enforceability of the agreement.

Why would I want a prenuptial agreement?

The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to determine before the marriage how property and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce, and it can also address alimony and estate issues. Generally, a prenuptial agreement specifies property that will remain a spouse’s separate property no matter what happens during the marriage. Prenuptial agreements are often attractive and recommended to marrying couples who have significant assets, who have children from previous relationships with whom they desire to provide, or who want to assure their business partners that nothing will happen to the business in the event of a divorce. Finances are often to blame for marriages failing, and a prenuptial agreement forces a couple to make tough decisions before walking down the aisle.

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