When you get married, you are expecting it to be a lifetime commitment. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a large percentage of marriages, as 40 to 50 percent of US marriages end in divorce. If you have many assets or own a business, you might want to look into creating a prenuptial agreement for you and your future spouse to sign before you walk down the aisle. Before you commit to a prenuptial agreement, there are a few things that you should know about these agreements.
What Exactly Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a document that is signed by a couple sometime prior to their wedding (usually, an ample amount of time prior to the wedding) that details the property rights that will go to the members of the union in the event of a divorce or death.
A prenuptial agreement can override a number of laws that can determine who receives what property in the event of one of these phenomena.
For example, a prenuptial agreement that is constructed properly can override laws such as the Community Property Law, which is a law that states that everything accumulated over the course of a marriage will be split 50/50, and the Equitable Distribution Law, which is a law that is in place where the assets will be distributed evenly over what the court deems to be adequately fair.
There are some limitations on prenuptial agreements and they can occasionally be rather strict. Many of the legalities of prenuptial agreements constitute provisions for religious faith or religious beliefs concerning children of mixed faith households, as well as household maintenance costs.
Many people falsely believe that having their future spouse sign a prenuptial agreement will give them custody rights for their children no matter what the circumstances; however, this is not the case.
A prenuptial agreement cannot provide one with custody rights for unborn children, either. There is nothing in a prenuptial agreement that may promote a divorce, either. In other words, you cannot have someone sign something that says something along the lines of " A divorce is necessary in the event of infidelity."
Proper Prenuptial Agreements
One cannot merely sign a piece of paper and have a prenuptial agreement go into effect. There is a rather complex system of legalities set in place before a prenuptial agreement is officially set in motion or takes effect.
Both parties signing a prenuptial agreement should definitely have an attorney, have their attorney look over the prenuptial documents and make sure that everything looks fair, safe and legally accurate. In addition, both parties must reveal all assets over the course of the document.
If one or both parties is found to have "hidden" or "secret" assets that were not revealed over the course of the document, the chances of the document being thrown out altogether and having zero legal standing is quite great. Although the time frame varies from state to state, a prenuptial agreement must be signed an ample amount of time before the wedding in over to avoid the prospect of coercion.
Is A Prenuptial Agreement Right For You?
Take a prenuptial agreement into consideration if you are bringing a formidable amount of assets into the relationship (such as if you own a small business, if you have a large amount of cash in your checking and savings accounts, etc.), if you plan on paying any amount of your spouse's formal higher education or if you have children from a prior marriage. Younger people without a large amount of assets and those couples that are marrying for the first time generally will not need to or want to sign a prenuptial agreement.
Signing a prenuptial agreement might be right for you and your spouse, but only you two can decide that. Weigh the pros and cons before you sign, and remember that this kind of agreement is a protective measure.