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Prenuptial Agreements

Many marriages fail, and the two parties entering into the partnership usually enter with assets that can be split upon the divorce. If either one of the parties is not happy with the traditional agreement that the assets are split in half, a prenuptial agreement is in order before the beginning of the marriage.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

It is a written contract between two people who intend to marry that defines what will happen to their combined, and especially their previously owned, assets in the event that the marriage is dissolved due to divorce.

Why do people get prenuptial agreements?

They are tools for people that enter into marriages with unequal assets. If one has very few and enters into the marriage contract with another person that has few assets, a prenuptial agreement may not be necessary. If one has many millions of dollars and seeks to protect it from the spouse in the event of a breakup or divorce, it is best to have a prenuptial agreement. If it is forgotten in the heat of the moment before marriage, it is also possible to obtain a postnuptial agreement, which is similar to a prenuptial agreement- it divides the assets of a marriage in a way that both parties agree upon.

Do I need a prenuptial agreement?

That is up to you, but in general, it depends on the amount and the type of assets you own. Consider having a prenuptial agreement if you own real estate that is difficult to divide or if you marry someone who is poor when you are wealthy.

How much does it cost to obtain a prenuptial agreement?

The cost varies, but it starts at a low price if you know how to file the documents and write some them yourself. If you do not, it costs somewhere between $2500 and $7000, and you often get what you pay for when dealing with legal situations. That is why having a good and honest attorney is priceless, because you may need him or her for many things.

How should I tell my future spouse that I intend to obtain a prenuptial agreement?

Honesty is the best policy. Explain that you want to protect your assets and keep them safe for the children, and that he is expected to work and have his own assets. Once your partner has proved his commitment over the years, the document can be modified. Both parties entering marriage must sign the document, so there is no reason to be dishonest about it.

Does a prenuptial agreement cover the children and their custody arrangement?

No, it does not. The prenuptial agreement divides your assets as specified in the languages of the document. It does not divide custody of people.

When should a prenuptial agreement be made?

At least 30 days before the marriage, and it needs to be signed by both parties and witnessed by a notary or judge within that period of time.

How do I enforce a prenuptial agreement?

One of the signers of the agreement must go to court and schedule a date when they will both appear, and have the other party served with a paper that demands his or her signature. The paper should be sent through certified mail so that there is verifiable proof that it is served to the other party/ Not showing up to court after that is done may cost the signer rights to his or her assets as defined by the contract.

What is separate property and what is shared property?

Separate property is property that will remain with the original owner in the event of a divorce or breakup. Shared property is the property that is ostensibly produced during the marriage, agreed upon prior to the writing of the prenuptial contract, and is split within the two parties 50/50, or according to the terms of the prenuptial agreement if there is one. Another common clause is that each party will be granted the assets of shared property based on his or her own contribution during the time spent together with the other.

My partner owes a lot of money to the state due to student loans and to a previous partner due to litigation that related to a past partnership.

Can a prenuptial agreement release me from responsibility for such debts?

Yes, it can, but it does not always happen. Debts are one of the most important reasons that people obtain prenuptial agreements. Without an agreement signed and witnessed, it is possible that the party who does not have the debt but marries the other might be held liable for previous debt.

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