Previous posts on this blog have discussed premarital agreements, which are also commonly referred to as prenuptial agreements or even just prenups.
To review, a prenuptial agreement allows a couple, prior to marriage, to set out rights and responsibilities between themselves with respect to their finances.
While a prenup can to some extent guide the property division process in the event of a divorce or legal separation, many couples with no plans to separate may also enter a prenup for other reasons, such as if one or both of them have children from a prior relationship. Likewise, those who own small corporations or partnerships may be required as part of their position to have a valid premarital agreement in place.
Premarital agreements are allowed in Missouri, but it is very important for those who enter into them to draft them carefully and thoroughly.
For one, Missouri law has established important rules and restrictions on these sorts of agreements.
While there are certain formal requirements, perhaps the more important rules are that both sides have to enter the prenuptial agreement freely and voluntarily, and then only after they have had a full disclosure of their soon-to-be spouse’s financial situation.
The agreement also has to be conscionable, meaning that a court will not follow agreement if the result is that one side walks away with the bulk of the property while the other is in a financial pinch. It also bears mentioning that child custody, visitation and child support matters cannot be the subject of a prenuptial agreement.
The bottom line for Saint Louis residents is that a prenuptial agreement is an important legal document which needs to be written clearly and in a way that follows the law. Having the help and advice of an experienced family law attorney who serves the locale can be an important first step.