When to Get a Prenuptial Agreement

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Many people may think of a prenuptial agreement (prenup for short) as admitting failure before the marriage even begins. However, a prenup offers protection and recognizes the value each person brings to the marriage. Here are some situations when you should consider a prenup and the steps to take to get one.

Previous Marriage and Children

If either of you has been married before or has children, a prenup might be a good idea. You can use a prenup to make sure that property from a previous marriage or child support doesn’t get entangled with the finances of your new marriage. A prenup can also lay out how you want your assets distributed when you die. A surviving spouse might be entitled to property you want to go to your children. You should still have a will, but a prenup can clarify your intentions right from the beginning.

Imbalance in Wealth

If either of you has significantly more assets or debt than the other, a prenup is essential. It protects the wealth you built before the marriage. It will also shield you from taking on debt your spouse accumulated before you got married. If you run a family business, there may be an expectation that you ensure the business stays in the family. If you own a growing business, you can insulate assets built before and during the marriage. You can also protect yourself from surprises. You want to know that your new spouse has $50,000 in credit card debt before you are thinking about divorce under the Model Marriage and Divorce Act.

Financial Clarity

You may just want clarity moving forward. Before you get married, you should have discussions about your financial goals as a couple. You may discover that they are not the same. A prenup may be a way to protect your interests in that situation. Perhaps one of you plans to stop working after you get married. A prenup can lay out what that means for each of you financially. You may ultimately decide that you don’t need a prenup. You will feel secure in that decision if you have had financial discussions before you get married.

Steps to Take

If you decide to enter into a prenup, each of you should hire an attorney. You cannot use the same one. Be sure to hire an attorney who specializes in family law. Take your time. This is not a process that you want to rush. After the agreement is drafted, review it carefully. Make sure that your future spouse does as well. Don’t be afraid to make changes. You want the document to be as detailed and unambiguous as possible. If you are already married, you still may be able to enter into a post-nuptial agreement. It is basically the same, but it is drafted and signed after the marriage. Complete the agreement before you get married if possible. Agreements signed after marriage might be more difficult to enforce.

Signing a prenuptial agreement doesn’t diminish your feelings for one another. It ensures that you are looking out for each other. That may not be your intent going into a divorce.