Before getting married, some couples consider signing a prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a prenup.
In essence, a prenuptial agreement is a contract outlining how to divide property and financial assets in the event of a divorce or the death of one spouse.
It is important for those considering a prenuptial agreement to understand the implications of the agreement.
Why do couples enter into prenuptial agreements?
While most people think of prenuptial agreements as protecting assets in a divorce, couples also commonly use the agreements to control the disposition of property if one spouse dies.
For example, a person may want to ensure that certain assets or a family business pass to their children, especially if this is a second marriage later in life. In this circumstance, the couple can agree that specified assets or the family business are not subject to division and instead remain the property of the spouse who brought the asset or business into the marriage.
As this example illustrates, couples enter into prenuptial agreements so they can agree before marriage about asset distribution upon divorce or death of one spouse. The prenuptial agreement avoids the need to litigate these issues when emotions are running high.
Requirements for a prenuptial agreement
For a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable, courts require the agreement to be in writing and executed with full knowledge of both parties’ assets and debts. Both parties generally must have an opportunity to speak with an attorney to fully understand the agreement.
It is also important the agreement is reasonably fair to both parties. Courts will not enforce an agreement that is unconscionable, meaning so one-sided as to be fundamentally unfair to either party.
Considering a prenuptial agreement
If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, it is critical that you consult an experienced attorney for advice.