What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (or premarital agreement) is probably the most important contract that a couple can consider before getting married. A prenuptial agreement is just an agreement that every couple makes before entering into the legal union of marriage.
Whether they realize it or not, every couple enters into marriage with some kind of a prenuptial agreement. That claim may sound far-fetched, but it’s true.
By the time they say “I do”, every marrying couple has agreed to either:
Let their marital and divorce rights be determined by default state laws; OR
Create and sign a written premarital agreement that allows them to take back control of their rights in a way that meets their needs.
Sadly, all marriages eventually end--either by the death of one spouse or because of a divorce. When a couple gets married without a written premarital contract, their prenuptial agreement is to allow the default state laws to control what rights they have while they are married, and what rights they have when the marriage terminates by death or divorce.
The purpose of entering into a written prenup before marriage is that it allows a couple to "pre-agree" to the terms that apply when the marriage eventually ends by death or divorce. To a large degree, signing a prenup allows a couple to control what happens in the event of a divorce or death, rather than scrambling to figure out and protect their rights under the often confusing and unfair default laws of their state.
A well-drafted premarital agreement should decrease the chance that a couple will go broke fighting each other in divorce court in the event of a marital disaster, and increase the chance that their marriage will end with minimal conflict.
Family lawyers and analysts have confirmed that more couples than ever are requesting prenuptial agreements before getting married. Millennials have made prenups the latest wedding trend, and many progressive couples have made considering a prenuptial agreement an essential item on their wedding planning checklist.
The many pros of a prenup include the ability to:
1. Keep property owned before the marriage separate during the marriage.
2. Establish alimony terms and avoid a nasty court fight if you divorce.
3. Control how your property is distributed upon your death.
4. Avoid the pre-marriage debts of your spouse.
5. Give you peace of mind that you are protected so that you can walk down the aisle with confidence.
A premarital agreement can be drafted to provide for a minimum amount of alimony to be paid to either spouse in the event of a divorce, in whatever amount and for how long a marrying couple agrees. When a couple can agree on alimony terms in their prenuptial agreement, they can get married with peace of mind and confidence because they made a fair deal in advance—just in case things don’t go as planned.