Considering getting married? Why should you have a prenup?
Marriages are much like any business venture (with an emotional piece added of course!). Two people who were going through their lives separately decide they want to become one and go through this journey of life with each other. Open and honest communication can put issues to rest before you marry so that you can have a healthy relationship going forward. As unromantic as it sounds, marriage is just taking the strengths of each party to produce a better end result. Just like a business, some do very well and others tank. Would you enter into a business relationship with an understanding of the expectations of the two individuals and an explanation as to what each brings to the relationship? Hopefully, the answer is no, and marriages should be no different.
Any arrangement is better when there is a “meeting of the minds” and a marriage is no different. Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich. Prenuptial agreements also aren’t just for those who have blended families or who expect to get divorced from the start. They are actually used for reasons quite the opposite.
The idea of a prenuptial agreement is to get all your cards on the table so that there are no surprises or super expensive emotional and volatile divorces at the end of the road. Prenups give you an opportunity when things are good to think logically and discuss the expectations of the relationship along with other financial concerns that each party may have to go into the marriage.
What Goes In a Prenup?
You will need to prepare a complete inventory of each of your assets and debts. You will then need to discuss with your partner what happens with your assets from before the marriage and how they’ll be handled against the assets that you obtain during the partnership (marriage). Will you have separate bank accounts? Will only one name be on the house? Will assets that are only in one name belong to the person who’s name is on it? Will the increase in the value of a non-marital piece of property count as marital property?
Will counseling be required before filing for a divorce? Should therapy be required in the event of infidelity? Will your spouse have the right to own part of your family business if you separate? Who is responsible for paying off your student loan debt during the marriage if your school was completed before you tied the knot? Will one party pay alimony in the event of a divorce? Are you allowing dirty laundry to be aired on Facebook? Which spouse will stay in the marital home in the event of a separation? These are just some of the many questions that get set up while organizing a prenup. There is no one size fits all approach to prenups.
Sometimes prenuptial agreements have more to do with keeping the marriage together than what it means in the event of splitting up. It just depends on the parties and what is most important to them.
When Should a Prenuptial Agreement Be Prepared?
The rule of thumb is no earlier than 4 months before and no later than 2 weeks before the wedding.
It sometimes takes at least 30-90 days to draft these agreements when counsel is involved on both sides, so plan accordingly.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney (or 2 for that matter)?
It’s quite simple.
Just like getting your oil changed, it is possible to draft your own prenup without an attorney. However, the risk of it being overturned and invalidated is extremely high when it is not at least reviewed by an attorney for each party. You better believe that these agreements are scrutinized heavily by attorneys representing the spouse on the losing side of the agreement. If there is even a tiny possibility that something seems unfair, you better believe it’s going to be challenged. A Montgomery County prenuptial agreement attorney (hyperlink) has drafted many more of these documents than you probably have during your lifetime.
They are aware of the complexities and challenges that this sort of agreement has and ways to make sure it remains fair.
Most importantly they can use their prior experience to counsel you on what the court may or may not have a problem with and how it can be fine-tuned to make it less of an issue. In fact, they will generally tell you when it comes to prenuptial agreements, you don’t want to hire just one attorney. You want to hire two. Because of the high level of scrutiny, it is smart to hire two independent attorneys to help you and your spouse negotiate the agreement. When each party has the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice about the terms of the agreement, courts are more likely to determine that each person understands the contract as stated and will likely uphold it. The attorneys will help you put your concerns and desires into the legal form so it has a better chance as being recognized as lawful by the courts.
The Montgomery County family law attorneys at Rick Stock Law have a vast amount of experience when it comes to both prenuptial agreements and various other agreements used in marriages (postnuptial, property settlement agreements, marital settlement agreements, separation agreements, etc.)
To arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us online or by telephone at 484-272-5133