Prenuptial agreements are an important tool for couples in a variety of situations. Common misconceptions about prenups are that they are only for the rich and that they are used only to the advantage of the wealthier spouse. In reality, prenuptial agreements allow couples to anticipate, discuss and plan for the financial consequences should they decide to part ways. Pre-marital agreements serve to provide certainty and prevent future conflicts.
They can be particularly useful in several scenarios:
Second Marriages: Pre-marital agreements can specify how the expenses for children from prior marriages will be covered, as well as how other assets brought into the marriage will be divided.
Business Owners/Professional Partners: Prenups can serve to protect business interests and prevent a non-involved spouse from becoming liable for business debts.
Inheritances: Although inheritances are usually considered the separate property of each spouse, sometimes such assets can become commingled with martial property. A prenup can provide clarity in these situations.
Unequal Incomes: Although a husband and wife will generally never earn the same amount, when there is a vast difference in wages a prenup may be necessary. It can set a minimum or maximum amount on what the lower-wage earner would receive from the higher-wage earner in the event of a divorce. Such a provision, however, will likely be scrutinized by a judge if it seems patently unfair.
Significant Assets or Debts: Spouses can explain how they want to divide assets and debts, specifying whether either can make a claim to property or other assets being brought into the marriage and clarifying liability for separate debts.
An experienced family law attorney can provide further guidance on how a prenuptial agreement would benefit your specific situation.