What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into PRIOR to marriage which specifically states how the couple’s finances will be governed during the marriage, and in the event of divorce.
Marriage is a legal concept; there are rights and obligations associated with entering into matrimony.
The Law Is the Default Prenup
In effect, if you do not have your own prenuptial agreement, you are by default submitting to the state’s law.
But Isn’t the Law Fair?
Not necessarily. What may be “fair” to another person may not be “fair” to you. For example, I personally don’t think community property is fair to a person to contributes equally to the marriage in terms of housework.
Community property is based on the concept that the entire marrige is viewed as a whole. For example, if one person runs a law firm, and the other stays at home, the law assumes that BECAUSE the person staying at home is raising the children, he/she should partake in the profits of the law firm.
But what is the person staying at home doesn’t raise kids, and instead compulsively gambles, wasting away the estate? What if the person staying at home has an affair and ruins the marriage?
How is it “fair” that the hardworking owner of the law firm has to part with half the value of their business, and pay alimony and child support?
Prenuptial Agreements Do Not Cause Divorce
Car insurance does not cause car accidents, and prenuptial agreements do not cause divorce.
It is possible the stigma surrounding the mystery of prenups may stoke paranoia, but if you discuss it openly with your fiance/fiancee, and dispel the miconceptions, a prenuptial agreement can actually strengthen a marriage.
Prenups are NOT Bulletproof
But can’t they be challenged? Absolutely. No lawyer can ever guarantee they won’t be challenged.
Any written contract can be challenged. BUT, a properly drafted prenup with both parties represented by competent counsel and full disclosures will GREATLY increase your bargaining power.
What If I Am the Stay at Home Spouse?
A prenup can provide you with separate assets during the marriage. You do not have to depend on the generosity of your provider.
“Lifetime” alimony is a mythical concept, awarded in rare cases. If you are young and healthy, you will be expected to secure employment if the marriage ends.
To protect against the unknown, it is always advisable for the outspouse to provide for their own separate funds during the marriage. You never know when you need your own money, for medical or legal bills!
Prenups Lead to Simpler Divorces
Expensive divorces are caused by the unknown. For example, say one spouse owns a law firm. What is the value of that law firm?
Drafting a clear, simple prenup designating what is separate avoids the fight about characterization, and expensive valuation services.
Remember, a Strong Marriage is Far Better than a Strong Prenup
Prenuptial agreements do not ruin marriages. After you sign the prenuptial agreement, put it in s afe place, and forget about it.
If you stay married, you’ll never use it (except maybe against creditors).