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Understanding prenuptial agreements

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2022 | Family Law

If you are getting married, you may be excited, nervous and happy. You may have a million things on your mind, from the details of your upcoming wedding and honeymoon to your long-term future plans. The last thing you want to think about is the possibility that one day this relationship could end in divorce.

Of course, you probably already recognize that this could happen. And if it does, the best time to protect yourself is before it happens, with a prenuptial agreement. This type of contract can decide a lot of the most difficult divorce issues in advance, before the marriage even officially begins.

Property division

Marriage has many profound meanings — personal, religious or otherwise — but in a legal sense, marriage is a kind of contract between two individuals. When they are married, they have obligations to each other and they share their marital property.

Most of us don’t think much about this aspect of marriage so long as things are going well, but when a marriage ends, it becomes a big deal. It is no small task to untangle the marital property of two people. And generally speaking, the more assets — and the more complicated assets — the couple owns, the more difficult it is to divide them.

This is why the property division phase is often the most technically difficult aspect of any divorce, and especially any high-asset divorce.

The great advantage of a prenuptial agreement is that allows the spouses to decide some of the most thorny issues in their property division in advance. For instance, the parties can agree that certain assets or debts will remain as the separate property of one spouse in divorce, rather than becoming part of the marital property. It can also decide issues of inheritance — which can be especially important for people who have children from a previous relationship — and alimony.

Full disclosure

If the prenuptial agreement is valid, it will be enforceable should the couple later decide to divorce, greatly simplifying the process.

In the romantic swirl of an upcoming marriage, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of a prenuptial agreement. However, negotiating these agreements can, in some cases, actually make a relationship stronger.

One of the requirements of a valid prenuptial agreement is that the parties are entirely truthful about their property, so they don’t end up giving away rights without fully understanding what they are doing. This means the spouses are going into the marriage with open eyes and realistic expectations.