Are Prenuptial Agreements Really Necessary?

By: Valorie Jay

In today's society, nearly half of all marriages will sadly end in a divorce. With such statistics, this has prompted many couples to sign a prenuptial agreement before making their way down the aisle.

A prenuptial agreement , also referred to as a prenup, is a legally binding contract that is signed by a woman and man before they get married. The prenup clearly states how any pre-marital, as well as marital property will be divided up, should the marriage end in a divorce. A prenup also spells out how spousal support will be set up.

You should consider a prenuptial agreement if certain circumstances apply. For instance, if you are considerably wealthier than your partner, own your own house or have significant assets, you should consider a prenuptial agreement. If you own part or all of a business or are expecting a large increase in your salary, you should also consider a prenuptial agreement.

When considering a prenuptial agreement, be sure to bring up the topic early in the relationship. Don't wait until right before the wedding to tell your partner you want them to sign a prenuptial agreement.

Be honest and open about why you want your significant other to sign a prenup. It is important that you and your partner are able to agree on the basics of the prenuptial agreement, before bringing it to the lawyers. Make a list of all your assets and talk about who will get what, should the marriage end in divorce.

After you have both agreed to sign the prenup, you should each retain your own lawyer. If you and your significant other were to use the same lawyer, a judge might not enforce the agreement. He or she may say that one of you were not able to get sufficient legal representation.

It is important that you completely make known all of your assets. Any attempt to hide or mislead part of your assets could result in the prenuptial agreement being thrown out of court.

There are other ways a prenup can be thrown out by a judge. If the agreement is too lopsided, a judge may throw it out. A valid prenup must be fair to both spouses and it cannot leave either party penniless.

A prenup does not have any jurisdiction over child support. When signing a prenuptial agreement, you cannot forfeit your rights to child support. In the same respect, you cannot designate a dollar amount that is less than what would be ordered by the courts.

In cases where a prenuptial agreement is more generous than a will, a will does not supersede the Prenup. In other words, you cannot allot a lesser amount in your will, than that stated in the prenuptial agreement. However, you can leave more money in the will, than originally stated in the prenup.

A clause can be added to the prenuptial agreement, stating that it will expire after a designated period of time. This is referred to as 'Sunset Provisions'. In some states, if the couple does not opt to renew the prenuptial agreement, it will automatically expire after a certain number of years. In some states, a prenuptial agreement is no longer valid after a child is born.

Prenuptial agreements can be used to safeguard your assets. Before entering into one, be sure you have a full understanding of how they work.

Divorce and Infidelity
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