How a Prenuptial Agreement Can Benefit You
Prenuptial agreements are agreements entered into by a couple in contemplation of their marriage, and provide for how assets are to be owned (or divided) in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also address other matters, such as spousal support, and, potentially child support (although a court will always have final jurisdiction over child support payments in the event that they are found to be inadequate). If a divorce does occur, having a prenuptial agreement can help each person in saving significant time and legal fees, as well as the emotionally difficult process of negotiating these matters.
Negotiating and Drafting a Prenuptial Agreement
Drafting and negotiating a prenuptial agreement should be done with each side having legal counsel, for a number of reasons.
First, an attorney will be able to understand the specific circumstances of his or her client, and will be able to advise their client on the different scenarios in which a divorce may occur. For instance a divorce occurring one year after marriage may have significantly different ramifications for a spouse who never left the workplace than a divorce after 30 years of marriage in which the spouse has been out of the workforce for 20 years to raise children.
Second, there are many types of property that are not ordinarily considered, such as rights to a pension fund that may arise in the future as the result of one spouse accepting employment where pension benefits are offered. If these matters are not addressed in a prenuptial agreement, they will need to be negotiated later.
Third, a key aspect of typical prenuptial agreements will be to provide for a mechanism for ownership and the division of dividing all property that may be owned by the couple. This requires carefully going through not only currently-owned property, but also property that may become owned in the future. For example, what happens to property that may be jointly purchased by the couple, like furniture or a home? In some cases, one spouse may own the home, but the other spouse may have invested considerable time, energy, and even money making the home better. Should that second spouse get a share of the appreciated value of the home?
What Happens When the Prenuptial Agreement Does Not Address All Matters?
If the prenuptial agreement does not address all property matters, then, with respect to the property matters not addressed, it is as if the prenuptial agreement did not exist. The couple will need to agree on how such property should be divided (as it will likely be presumed to be owned 50/50). As a result, a key goal of all prenuptial agreements should be to consider and plan for, to the extent possible, all likely matters that can arise in a divorce (recognizing that it is not possible to foresee or plan for all contingencies and possibilities).
If You are Interested in Entering Into a Prenuptial Agreement, Please Contact Our Firm.
We offer a free initial phone consultation so that we can learn about your matter, and so that you can learn how we may be able to help.