When two people decide to marry, their eyes are filled with visions of happily ever after. Feeling excited about the future is an auspicious way to start. Keeping one foot on the ground is a good idea, too.
The words “prenuptial agreement” sometimes can conjure up the notion that one person in the relationship is trying to hold power over the other. That’s not necessarily true. A well-written prenuptial agreement does much more than preparing for divorce. The legal document sets a foundation that can benefit a marriage, not just worst-case scenarios.
Prenuptial agreements are particularly important for high-net-worth individuals where much is at stake financially. Still, prenups can help couples of all economic backgrounds establish the ground rules of the marriage.
This legal document can be a proactive and positive step. These agreements can provide a sense of security and reduce the chance for costly litigation in the future.
All Income Brackets Protected in Premarital Agreement
A prenuptial (premarital) agreement is a contract between the two parties about to marry. In most cases, each partner brings something of value into the marriage. The “something of value” does not mean expensive yachts or a vacation home in Telluride. The prenup can establish ownership of property, such as furniture, cars, and other items brought into the marriage.
By agreeing to ownership aspects before marriage, disagreements after the marriage over the property are less likely to occur because both spouses had an understanding before taking vows. This understanding is also helpful should the couple separate or divorce.
Who owns what is an important element in a premarital agreement, but much more than property ownership can be determined in writing.
Prenuptial agreements can resolve many questions for a couple:
- Who retains ownership of what property?
- How will incomes be allocated?
- How will household expenses be managed?
- How will debts be repaid?
- What do we set aside for current or future children?
- Can I protect my intellectual property in a business?
- What home maintenance duties does each contribute?
These agreements can also include specific details about divorce and spousal support. Even pet custody can be addressed. Child custody and child support cannot be predetermined in a prenuptial agreement.
Can Prenuptial Agreements Be Modified?
Prenuptial agreements are legal documents signed by both parties. The document is, though, changeable. As circumstances shift, the agreement can be changed if both sides agree. If both sides agree, the agreement can also be revoked. The agreement is only in effect should the marriage or civil union occur.
If you get married without a premarital agreement, you still have options to create a legally binding document. Post-marital agreements can include the same elements found in those written before marriage.
What Makes a Prenup Enforceable?
An agreement on a napkin may not hold up in court. An experienced attorney at Lane & Lane, LLC will guide their client through the process and ask the right questions to make the agreement as robust as necessary.
A prenuptial agreement with the following characteristics can better survive a legal challenge:
- The agreement is in writing, signed by both parties.
- Both parties signed the agreement voluntarily.
- The agreement shouldn’t overly benefit one party.
- The parties must have provided full and honest disclosure of their assets, debts, and income.
- Both parties should have their own legal counsel.
A premarital agreement can be thrown out by a judge if they believe the document was coerced, unfair, or otherwise fraudulent.
Advocates for Somerset & Morris County Families
At Lane & Lane, LLC, we understand the sensitive and sometimes highly charged aspects of family law, including premarital agreements. We compassionately offer our clients guidance and direction based on our more than six decades of experience.
We are committed to the best interests of our client and their family. We will be your staunch advocate as we go through the process of finalizing a premarital agreement.
If you wonder whether a premarital agreement is right for you and your future spouse, schedule a no-cost consultation. Submit our online form or call us at (908) 259-6673 to schedule.