About 2.3 million people get married each year.
A prenuptial agreement is a written contract that a couple makes before and in contemplation of marriage. A well-drafted prenuptial agreement sets the rules by which a married couple operates should they ever separate and/or divorce down the road. The purpose of a prenup is to set out the terms of the couple’s assets and debts, including property and future earnings and how they should be distributed if the marriage is dissolved.
A couple can freely enter into a prenuptial agreement that governs their property interests, income, expenses, spousal maintenance, what happens to their property upon their death, and any other terms that are not “unconscionable,” in violation of public policy, or would constitute a crime. Premarital agreement terms regarding future child custody and child support are not enforceable and cannot be included in a prenup.
Prenuptial agreements come in all shapes and sizes. Some people merely want to protect the property that they have acquired prior to marriage as sole and separate property but agree that all income earned during the marriage is community property. Other people desire to enter into a more involved premarital agreement whereby their individual incomes earned after marriage remain his or her sole and separate property. Some people merely desire to agree that an agreed-upon amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) will be paid in the event of divorce, or no alimony at all.