What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement or prenup, is a contract made between a husband and wife before they get married specifying what will happen to assets, etc in the case of a divorce.
Are Prenuptial Agreements Always Binding?
Not always. Some courts do not recognize them and enforcing one can be difficult if the other party decides to fight it in court.
A Prenup Isn’t Very Romantic. Do I Have to Have One?
Yes, it can be difficult to discuss divorce before a marriage has even begun, but with the divorce rate being what it is, you need to protect yourself. If you have children from a prior marriage, a business, or if you’re much wealthier than your future spouse, a prenup is recommended. And if the other person loves you they shouldn’t object.
What Can’t I Put in a Prenup?
You can’t restrict child support, custody or visitation in a prenuptial agreement. No court will allow you to make those decisions as they may not be in the best interest of the child.
Some states will not allow you to waive alimony.
You cannot use the prenuptial agreement to encourage divorce. That is to say, you can’t offer a financial bonus if the spouse leaves after an agreed upon time.
You shouldn’t use a prenup to handle personal matters such as who takes out the trash or which way the toilet paper should be put on the roll. You can, however, use it to outline financial decisions that will be made during the course of the marriage such as how bank accounts will be handled, income tax, buying a house, etc.
Do I Need a Lawyer or Can We Just Do It Ourselves?
For a prenup to be enforceable, you really need a lawyer. The laws that come into play vary from state-to-state and there’s something to be said for having an official seal on the document should it come up in court. Give yourselves plenty of time to write up and execute the prenuptial agreement as doing it two days before the wedding will be frowned upon should it come up in front of a judge.
What is a Sunset Clause?
A Sunset Clause allows for a change or the expiration of the prenuptial agreement after a set period of time. For example, John the best selling author might not want his wife of two years to inherit half of his royalties upon divorce, but after ten or twenty years of marriage, that’s a different story.