Make A Prenuptial Agreement Part Of Your Wedding Plans
Among the plans and preparations for your big day, meeting with a family law attorney and creating a prenuptial agreement may not be on your to-do list, but it should be. After all, getting married is a legal act, so don't neglect to take the important step to ensure that you have a complete set of legal provisions in place when you wed. A prenuptial agreement can address vital aspects of you and your fiancé's financial life, so read on.
What Should Go Into a Prenuptial Agreement?
The wonderful thing about prenuptial agreements is the ability to create a custom-made document that addresses the issues that are the most important to you and your fiancé. There are really no exact legal requirements on the books when it comes to these agreements, but commonly couples include the following issues:
- Real estate, vehicles, artwork, jewelry and other property that is owned by one party prior to marriage, and provisions for how the property will be treated upon marriage. For example, will each person keep their own property in their name and never intermingle it? Or will certain items become joint property?
- Any debts held by one party and who will own this debt after marriage.
- Provisions for the division of property and debt if you divorce.
- How household bills will be treated. For example, will rent or mortgage payments be paid by one party, divided evenly or divided based on income.
- The funding of savings, investment, educational and other accounts.
- Provisions for children from previous relationships if a death occurs. It should be noted that this agreement is not meant to take the place of estate planning, wills, trusts or other legal instruments, but an inclusion that addresses this issue may be used as evidence if an inheritance is challenged.
What Should Not Go Into a Prenuptial Agreement?
1. In the event of a divorce, issues relating to child custody, support and visitation should be addressed only in a separation agreement and the divorce petition. Courts have ruled that state law supersedes these types of agreements, since family courts hold the best interests of the child above all else.
2. Leave off minor and frivolous issues like how your children will be named, where you will live, who does the household chores, etc. Prenuptial agreements should address financial issues only.
3. The issue of spousal support (alimony) should not be addressed in a prenuptial agreement (in some states).
Additionally, Avoid the Following:
1. Concealing assets or debt from your fiancé when creating your agreement.
2. Making an agreement that is obviously unfair to one party.
3. Using force or coercion to create the agreement.
The assistance of a family law attorney is vital when creating your agreement to ensure that your documents are fair, complete, and most importantly, legal.