Marriage is one of the biggest decisions of our life and brings about some of the most cherished and memorable days. While no person enters the marriage thinking of a bitter ending, many marriages do end that way.
Divorces aren’t easy and sometimes can indicate the beginning of an ugly battle for joint finances, assets, and allocation of debts between two spouses. So, how can we ensure a smooth ending and move on with our life?
A prenuptial agreement can help us here. It’s an agreement made between two people who are about to marry and mentions how assets and debts will be divided if the couple decides to part ways.
Below, we have curated the ten most common questions asked by people interested in a prenup. Let’s go through them.
What is a prenuptial agreement, and what does it cover?
A prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup, is a legally binding agreement between two people who are about to marry. It specifies how assets and debts will be divided between the partners if the marriage breaks or one of them passes away. The parties involved can enter terms as they like and determine how assets and financial responsibilities will be divided when the partners are still married.
Why should we consider getting a prenup?
One of the most asked questions about a prenup is, ‘Should we even go for it?’ The answer is absolutely. A prenuptial agreement brings peace of mind and financial security into a marriage. It sets clear guidelines for asset and debt distribution if the marriage ends, so the parties involved don’t have to get into a new hassle when and should the time arrive. At the same time, it opens up the path for more open discussions about financial matters with your would-be partner before marriage.
Do I need a lawyer for a prenuptial agreement, or can we draft one ourselves?
Another commonly asked question is, ‘Do I need a lawyer for a prenuptial agreement?’ Well, you can draft a prenup on your own, but there will always be a risk of mistakes and loopholes. Therefore, always take the help of a lawyer to prepare a prenuptial agreement. A professional and experienced lawyer can handle the complexity of the agreement and make it enforceable, which might not always be the case with a self-made one.
How does a prenuptial agreement work in case of divorce or separation?
Prenups help make the divorce process much smoother and easier. As the terms are predetermined, the judge doesn’t have to spend time after the asset and debt distribution. The couple also doesn’t have to go through lengthy court battles to win over a fair share of the total property. They can file the divorce, and their respective attorneys can settle the prenup alongside. After notifying the court, wait for the finalization before updating your legal documents and account status.
Can a prenup protect my business or other assets acquired before the marriage?
Yes, a prenup can help protect your premarital assets or business. The divorce will affect only the assets and debts which you include in the prenup. So if you want to protect a particular asset or business, refrain from mentioning it in the prenup. This will help you protect it when the agreement becomes enforceable.
Can a prenup have rules for handling joint debts and financial responsibilities during the marriage?
Yes, it can. It can specify how each spouse will handle their share of joint financial responsibilities like mortgages or loans. It can also say who should pay for these after the divorce. This helps determine the financial responsibilities for you and your spouse and prevents you from getting into unnecessary conflicts during the marriage or after the divorce.
Can a prenup include spousal support/alimony, and how is it determined?
A prenup can indeed have rules about alimony if the marriage ends. These rules determine the alimony amount and period for the support. However, these rules must not be unfair to any parties involved in the agreement. A judge might check for accuracy and fairness of the provision after divorce, and search for details such as duration of marriage and income of both spouses before giving a final verdict in its favor.
When is a prenuptial agreement legally valid and fair?
To ensure fairness, it should be established in the presence of attorneys that both parties entered the agreement of their own volition and weren’t forced into it. Both you and your spouse should disclose your financial information without hiding any details and set boundaries on how much of your assets you want to include in the agreement. You should also take enough time to consider the rules before signing.
Can I change or update a prenup after marriage?
Yes, you can. But the process will depend on local jurisdiction. You can include the terms of change when you enter the agreement. Some states require legal documentation of the changes, and you must prove that your partner is okay with them. In any case, you should always consult an attorney and make the changes through a legal process.
What happens if we don’t have a prenuptial agreement?
Without a prenuptial agreement, the division of assets and debts will follow state laws, and it might not always work in your favor. This can create disputes and unnecessarily lengthy court battles which can drag on for years and cost you a lot of money. Having a prenuptial agreement helps sort everything out quickly after your divorce and can save you all the trouble.
Divorce is usually the last thing on our minds when we marry, but like they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Prenups are sensitive and should be handled with professional support. When you draft the agreement, make sure to truly listen to your partner and respect their wishes and capabilities before selfishly deciding on the terms.