It’s hard to think that a divorce might happen when you are in the midst of planning your marriage and happily dreaming about the rest of your life, isn’t it?  How do you plan a happy life while deciding what to do if it all goes south?  The problem is that most people think that their marriage will never fail. It’s easy to feel that way during the honeymoon phase of the relationship.  The reality is that most marriages begin to struggle when children enter the picture, or finances are strained.

A happy marriage is precisely the reason to create a document that outlines what happens in the event of divorce now rather than wait until later.  Having such a document takes away the stress of wondering what will happen with an existing asset or if you will be responsible for a now existing debt.  There will never be an argument about what happens with an asset because it is already determined.  Know that you are protecting what you have now.  That way, you can grow the assets, and build more assets, together when you become a happily married couple.

The Contract:  Prenuptial Agreement.  A prenuptial agreement (more commonly referred to as a “prenup”) is a contract created by two people in contemplation of marriage.  The parties first disclose their current assets (and debt, if appropriate) and ensure that they each know the other’s assets and worth. That eliminates the ability for either party to say that s/he didn’t know that a particular asset existed or was worth a particular amount. From there, a prenup creates a plan for payment of any debt (who is responsible) and/or division of these assets (husband gets the first 20%of the home equity) in the event of a divorce.  Also to be determined, should the parties desire to do so, is spousal support, family heirloom security, etc.

Prenups are not only for rich people.  Made popular in the movies or in entertainment news, prenups are not just for the rich.  A prenup can be used by anyone who wishes to retain their property into the marriage. You can secure your interest a property that you’ve owned individually for many years prior to your relationship.  You can ensure that your mother’s diamond ring always remains on your finger.   You can make sure that your retirement earned pre-marriage is yours and yours alone.  You can use a prenup to pass property to children from a prior relationship or marriage.  You can avoid disagreements in the event of divorce by specifying in advance how the property will be divided upon divorce.  You can have Debt protection from your soon-to-be-spouse’s existing debts.

Do you really need a document to memorialize this?  Won’t the court allot you the asset or the value of the asset from a pre-marriage if you can prove that it existed at that time and that it was worth a certain amount?   While you can certainly make that argument during the course of a divorce action, and you may very well be in a favorable position, why leave this issue out on the table?  Why worry about it?  Why even have to discuss it?  If you have the agreement in place, it’s a dead issue leaving you free to move on to working out the issues that you couldn’t possibly have contemplated in anticipation of a divorce.  Control what you can now should you be in this situation later.

For more information on prenuptial agreements, see the following page:    Prenuptial Agreements

Of course, this contract, like many other aspects of family law, is a very individual agreement that should be specified to your individual situation.  If you think that you might be in a position that requires a prenup, then contact my office and we can discuss it.  You can reach me by phone or online at the following contact page.