A pre-nuptial agreement is made by two people anticipating marriage. Generally, it serves the purpose of spelling out how property and finances will be divided in the event the marriage ends in divorce. It may also address the possibility of the death of one of the spouses.
One of the most common issues people take with these agreements is that since they precipitate the marriage, they are unromantic and destining the marriage to fail, since they address the possibility of divorce.
However, proponents of the agreements caution that with the divorce rate as high as it is, it is smart to be legally protected in case your marriage is one of them. Additionally, they claim that a pre-nuptial agreement can take the pressure off of the couple, and assure them that they are marrying for love, not for money. Proponents also maintain that the party who would stand to lose more in the case of a divorce no longer feels pressure to leave the marriage quickly if staying and trying to work things out will not hurt them financially. Thus, it gives them the freedom to work on each other and not what will happen to all of their “stuff.”
It is also a helpful exercise to see how your spouse thinks and what communicating with them over important familial and financial matters will be like. It is better to learn such lessons prior to entering a legally binding contract than afterward.
While pre-nuptial agreements are relatively uncommon for young newlyweds or people with no children and relatively low assets, they can be useful to older couples, who may be facing unique circumstances such as:
– Large differences in assets and/or property at the time of marriage
– Health conditions and/or age discrepancies
– Children from previous marriages or relationships
Coupled with the fact that the divorce rate is even higher for second and third marriage, a pre-nuptial agreement can take the pressure off of the couple and give them the promise of easily dividing their things should it come to that.
If you decide to enter a pre-nuptial agreement before you enter a marriage, you will need to sit down with your future spouse and decide what you would want in the event of a divorce. It is wise for both parties to consult an attorney to ensure that their rights are being protected and that the agreement is legally correct and true to their desires. The courts will generally completely honor the agreement in the event of a divorce, so it is critical that it be correct upon signing, or modified in a timely manner if need be.
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