Prenuptial agreements were once thought to be only for celebrities and the very wealthy – particularly when a wealthy person was marrying someone who had much less money. Among the rest of us, prenups were seen as unnecessary and unromantic.
But with divorce rates as high as they are and with more Americans waiting longer to get married, prenuptial agreements are growing in popularity. Most of us have some assets we wish to protect in the event of divorce, and a prenuptial agreement can be a good way to do that. Some important information about prenups is included below.
Marriage Is a Contract, and Prenups Change That Contract
When you get married, you are agreeing to abide by the marriage and divorce laws in your state. We think of marriage as a ceremony and a verbal agreement, but it is also a legal contract. Prenuptial agreements change the terms of the contract and allow you to create an agreement that works better for both spouses.
They are not a plan to get divorced. Instead, they are an insurance policy in case divorce ever occurs. A well-written prenup can make the divorce process much faster, easier and less contentious by laying out most of the terms ahead of time.
Three Agreements in One
A prenuptial agreement has essentially three components, covering contingencies for marriage, divorce and the death of the first spouse. This means that you are planning for three scenarios, two of which will definitely occur.
The first section, which most people think of as the only section of a prenup, is what happens if the couple ever gets divorced. How will assets be divided? Will spousal support be prohibited or limited? Will one spouse keep the marital residence? Are there any heirlooms that must stay with one spouse or the other?
If couples do not get divorced, then they truly are married until death, which is what the second section of a prenup is concerned with. Each state has its own laws governing inheritance rights. These will impact how and what the surviving spouse inherits after the first spouse dies, unless there is an alternate contract in place. That alternative contract could be a prenuptial agreement.
Finally, some prenuptial agreements contain a third section, often known as “lifestyle clauses.” They either outline expectations for what will occur in the marriage or what each spouse expects of one another. Some couples put infidelity provisions in this section, stating that the faithful spouse will get a certain dollar amount extra in the divorce for the other spouse’s infidelity. Other couples may include provisions about staying in shape, or something equally superficial. It should be noted that lifestyle clauses are somewhat rare, and they can be more difficult to enforce than the rest of the prenuptial agreement.
Need Help with Your Prenuptial Agreement? Contact Us to Get Started.
Prenuptial agreements should be written with the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at our firm. To get your questions answered or to get started on your prenup, call an attorney, like a family attorney in Tampa, FL, to arrange an initial consultation.
Thank you to the experts at The McKinney Law Group for their insight into family law and contacting a lawyer.