A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract created by two people before they marry. In the prenuptial agreement, the couple addresses such issues as the property brought into the marriage by each person and any property acquired during the marriage and, what the property rights of each will be should they divorce.
Do you Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
Many are of the opinion that anyone who marries should have a prenuptial agreement and a strong understanding of the laws of their state pertaining to divorce. Gone are the days when prenups were only for the rich. If you plan to own property together, one of the other of you give up a career to raise children or, have your own income separate from your spouse, you need a prenup.
Couples just starting out can outline not only the financial responsibilities of each should there be a divorce, but they can also put in writing the expectations of each as far as behavior during the marriage. And what will occur should their expectations not be met.
For example, if both parties agree that the wife will stay home to raise the children once there are children the husband can’t one day leave the marriage and argue in family court that he “tried” to get his wife to work and she refused.
Another example, no one marries expecting their spouse to cheat. You can outline the financial ramifications of cheating that leads to divorce in a prenuptial agreement. Take a lesson from Sandra Bullock who had a prenuptial agreement stating that if Jessie James cheated he would no longer be entitled to any of her assets.
You may not have the assets that Sandra Bullock has but what assets you do have are important and if you land in divorce court, a prenup will protect those assets.
4 Smart Reasons to Get a Prenup
Below is a list of what can be covered in a prenuptial agreement. It may help you make up your mind about whether or not to protect yourself and your spouse with such a contract.
- Keep assets separate: State divorce laws regulate what is and isn’t a marital asset. The problem is, you have to prove in court which was and wasn’t your asset either before the marriage or after. A prenuptial agreement will keep you from having to fight in court to prove what assets you brought into the marriage by listing those assets.
- Dividing Debt: Prenuptial agreements can limit your responsibility as far as your spouse’s debt at the time of divorce and during the marriage. How debt will be handled and who is responsible for that debt can save time any money if the end of the marriage means extensive litigation.
- Inherited Property: If you have inherited property you and your spouse can agree, in a prenuptial agreement, that the property remains with each spouse individually should there be a divorce.
- Divorce Settlement Negotiations: Most importantly, a prenuptial agreement will define who gets what should there be a divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, your state’s divorce laws and the settlement you negotiate will determine how marital assets are split. Isn’t it best to set your own rules as opposed to depending on those adopted by the state?