Prenuptial agreements–contracts entered into before marriage spelling out property and monetary division, among other things–are personal. Some couples enter into them easily, while for others the thought can cause emotional turmoil. Whether or not a prenup is right for your marriage is something you and your spouse need to determine on your own, but a few facts can help. Spend some time going over the pros and cons before you make a decision.
The Pros of a Prenup
Some benefits of signing a prenuptial agreement are:
It can protect individual property by designating it as separate.
It can protect one or both spouse’s business from being affected by events in the marriage.
It can protect your estate plan, so that courts cannot decide property distribution in the event of divorce.
It outlines what is marital property and what is separate property.
It can help reduce conflict during divorce, because much will have been resolved ahead of time.
It can address and resolve designation of debts to the individual, so both spouses are not liable for one spouse’s debt.
It can help speed up court proceedings in the event of divorce.
It can establish rules for financial issues that might arise in the future.
It can lay out special arrangements between you and your spouse, not only financial, but also personal.
While a prenup helps greatly in the case of divorce, it can be a hard subject to broach. No engaged couple wants to think that they might not be together forever. Even if you never get divorced though, a prenup can help mitigate financial fights throughout the marriage. Especially if you own a business, it might be a good idea to consider protecting it with a prenup. Some couples find that while their initial thoughts about a prenup are negative, once they go through the process of talking about finances, property, and more, it ends up being a positive experience. The process of putting together a prenup can encourage healthy conversation about hard topics, and make sure you and your future spouse are on the same page before you say “I do.”
The Cons of a Prenup
Some cons of signing a prenuptial agreement are:
It could cause tension or hurt feelings between you and your intended spouse.
You may not have any assets to include in a prenup, or know what the future will hold and what issues might arise. If this is the case, you can always create a similar document called a post-nuptial agreement once you’re married and issues come up that you think should be included in a contractual agreement.
It does not address child custody or support issues, so those will always be decided by courts.
In the case of divorce, a court can set aside prenup provisions it finds to be unfair or unjust.
It cannot practically micromanage personal provisions like designating housework, choosing which family to spend the holidays with, etc.
Once you’ve looked through the pros and cons of a prenup, think about your situation. If you own real estate, earn a high income, own a business, have a large amount of assets, have an estate plan that names an heir other than your future spouse (like children from another marriage), or a life plan that includes one of you working while the other goes to school or works on a personal project, a prenup might be a good idea. Of course, only you can now how it will affect your marriage, and bringing up the idea of a prenup is a personal decision.
If you have questions about how your situation could be protected or hurt by a prenuptial agreement, talk to a lawyer. Schiffman Family Law offers a free one-hour consultation to anyone with legal questions, so schedule a meeting today to talk through the pros and cons of a prenup with a family lawyer who has handled hundreds of them.