As the bridal magazines tell us at the newsstand, we have entered marriage season. If it is spring, it is time to get married. And with so many soon-to-be newlyweds getting ready to walk down the aisle, they should strongly consider first walking to an attorney and putting together a prenuptial agreement.
According to a recent article, nearly one-third of all young women believe a prenuptial agreement is necessary, but less than a quarter will actually sign one when they get married. Some people still have trouble entering a prenuptial agreement because they feel it sets the marriage off on the wrong tone or is amounts to admitting the marriage will fail.
While one can appreciate wanting a wedding to retain as much purity and innocence as possible, reality tells a different story – the odds favor a marriage failing as much as succeeding. Taking an extra precaution to protect your interests in the event of divorce (no matter how unlikely to the individual perception) makes sense.
So many different changes happen over the course of a marriage. One high earning spouse may decide to become a stay-at-home parent. One spouse may inherit from a wealthy relative. One spouse may decide to go back to school. With so many changes come real financial issues that impact present and future income and also future assets. It would be best to plan and prepare for these issues in a prenuptial agreement rather than fight about them during a divorce.
A prenuptial agreement actually helps engaged couples think through some important financial issues and planning in advance of marriage, and the response to these scenarios may shed light on key questions in the relationship, light that may even change a couple’s mind about getting married. It is better to discover these issues before entering marriage rather than find out with severe consequences at the time of divorce.
Generally, the goal of a prenuptial agreement is to protect the interests of the parties with regard to certain separate property (say, protecting an inheritance) and also to shape the financial stability of each party in the future in the event of divorce. If one spouse does not work in order to stay home and care for the children, that spouse will want financial security in the event of a divorce, not only in terms of property division (including retirement funds) but also in terms of maintenance.
While courts have little leeway in what to do when they divide marital property in terms of creativity, individual couples can be more creative and proactive in a prenuptial agreement. In essence, the prenuptial agreement can become a financial planning tool at the outset of the marriage so that in the event of a divorce both spouses have financial security.
Prenuptial agreements have many advantages and little to no downside, once an individual gets past the belief that only “doomed” partners get a prenuptial agreement.
If you have questions about a prenuptial agreement, contact us – we can help.