A prenuptial agreement is a contract between engaged individuals that helps to clarify certain elements of – and expectations for – their relationship. Additionally, by establishing what soon-to-be spouses expect in the event of divorce, couples take the mystery and romance out of marital dissolution. They also make it easier to pursue a low-conflict or uncontested divorce because they have already negotiated the key terms for separating their lives before their relationship has an opportunity to take a turn for the worse.
Every newly-engaged couple has its own unique needs, but there are certain trends regarding what people address in their prenuptial agreements. These are three of the most common concerns people address in their pre-marital contracts.
1. Premarital property
Sometimes, those getting engaged have already acquired certain valuable resources such as a professional practice or a residence. They may want to clarify that these assets will remain their separate property and will not be subject to division in the event of a divorce.
Some couples will also specifically address premarital debt as well. Although pre-existing debts are usually the separate responsibility of the spouse who took on those debts, they could still lead to conflict during the divorce process. Specifically agreeing about what will happen with both pre-existing resources and obligations can remove a potential source of conflict from future divorce proceedings.
2. Likely future acquisitions
Perhaps one fiancé has grandparents with significant resources, and they anticipate being one of the main beneficiaries of their estate. When someone has reason to anticipate that they will acquire specific resources during the marriage, they may want to discuss that ahead of time with their spouse and clarify that they will retain that property as separate throughout the marriage and in the event of a divorce.
3. Rules for marital property
Most of the time, couples will treat what they earn during the marriage as their shared or marital property. It may be necessary to clarify what will constitute the marital estate and how the couple will divide those resources if either of them files for divorce in the future. Whether there will be a 50/50 split or a different arrangement based on the individual financial circumstances of the spouses, taking the time to reach an agreement before marriage will mean that the matter does not become a point of contention if the couple later divorces.
Those who seek legal guidance in order to address major issues thoroughly via prenuptial agreements can take a lot of the stress out of the divorce process and may set themselves up for a healthier and happier marriage. For these reasons, talking about a prenuptial agreement during an engagement can potentially benefit future spouses in a variety of ways.