Many people in the United States hold only a partial understanding of what a prenuptial agreement is, the purpose of such a contract, and the benefits of drafting one. The basic function of a prenuptial agreement is to lay out each marrying spouse’s rights and responsibilities within their upcoming marriage. While some believe that suggesting a prenuptial contract indicates a lack of faith that the marriage will work, the reality is much different. Drafting a prenuptial agreement can provide a betrothed couple in the Midwest with an additional layer of security and peace of mind as they prepare for their marriage.
If you are planning to marry in the near future, a family law attorney in the Midwest is one of the best available assets if you wish to draft a prenuptial agreement. It’s essential to understand how prenuptial and postnuptial agreements work and the elements you should include in your own prenuptial contract.
What Can a Prenuptial Agreement Include?
Developing a prenuptial agreement can be advantageous for several reasons, many of which are financially related:
- You can outline each spouse’s separate property prior to marrying. Most states in the Midwest follow equitable distribution laws when it comes to property division in divorce. This means that the family court will assess the full scope of the property you and your spouse obtained while married. Having a clear inventory of the separate property that both you and your spouse possess at the beginning of your marriage can potentially save quite a bit of time and frustration if you ever decide to divorce. The prenuptial agreement can effectively provide clear distinctions between marital and separate property, offering both spouses peace of mind.
- A prenuptial contract can also provide protection from your spouse’s debts if you decide to divorce. For example, your prenuptial contract can not only include clear definitions for you and your spouse’s separately owned property but also outline your debts. This will ensure that you will not be financially responsible for debts your ex incurred prior to your marriage if you ever decide to divorce.
- Prenuptial agreements are also beneficial to those who are marrying while having children from a previous marriage. The contract can outline specific provisions to ensure children from previous marriages receive appropriate financial support. Your prenuptial contract can also outline specific rules that will take effect in the event of your death, ensuring that children from prior marriages have the right to inherit your property according to state laws.
- It is not uncommon for prenuptial agreements to include estate-related provisions. Many people who develop estate plans include their previously drafted prenuptial agreements to help clarify common financial questions in divorce and potentially help surviving family members avoid lengthy and stressful probate litigation.
- If you own a business, a prenuptial contract may be more necessary than you think. You can include protections for your business, including outlining any stake your spouse intends to have in the operation of the business. If your spouse does not intend to participate in the business, your prenuptial contract can include specific provisions. These provisions ensure they cannot go after your business assets if you divorce in the future.
- Developing a prenuptial contract is the best way to avoid complex property division proceedings in divorce. Instead of going through the motions of equitable distribution determinations, a marrying couple can instead “pre-negotiate” their property division, deciding who will get what in the event they decide to end their marriage. It is essential to consult an experienced attorney in this matter to ensure the prenuptial agreement includes legally enforceable property division rules.
- Prenuptial agreements also allow a marrying couple to outline their responsibilities during the marriage. This typically includes maintaining retirement account contributions, savings account contributions, spending management, and more.
Developing a prenuptial agreement can eliminate uncertainty for a marrying couple, allow them to have difficult conversations earlier rather than later, and ultimately allow them to enter their marriage with greater confidence and peace of mind. However, it is important to remember that there are some things that may not be included in a prenuptial agreement.
What Can’t My Prenuptial Contract Include?
The family court system has a legal duty to ensure that any children involved in a divorce case have their needs fully and legally addressed. It is not legal to include any provisions concerning child custody or child support in your prenuptial agreement. While you and your spouse may privately negotiate child custody and support if you decide to divorce, the parenting plan you develop must be reviewed by the court to ensure it meets the legal definition of protecting the children’s best interests.
A prenuptial agreement cannot include any illegal terms, waivers of the right to alimony, or any provisions that could be interpreted as incentivizing or encouraging divorce. Finally, it is not possible to include provisions for personal affairs, such as dictating the expected frequency of sexual intimacy during the marriage, details about the upbringing of children, or provisions that outline children’s relationships with grandparents or other extended family.
Find the Right Attorney to Draft Your Prenuptial Agreement
While many people mistakenly believe that a prenuptial agreement indicates a lack of faith in a pending marriage, the reality is that these contracts provide financial security and allow a marrying couple to address complex financial issues in advance. Your prenuptial contract could be the first step to a secure and successful marriage, but only if you choose the right attorney to handle the drafting of your contact and provide professional insights into the elements of your contract that you must address.
Take time to find an experienced family law attorney to help you draft your prenuptial contract for additional peace of mind in your upcoming marriage. An experienced Midwest family law attorney can sit down with you and your fiancée to help the two of you develop a comprehensive prenuptial agreement that includes the provisions that are most important to both of you. Take time to work carefully and choose an experienced attorney to ensure your prenuptial agreement is as complete and enforceable as possible.