Premarital agreements (aka “prenup”) are used to define the rights and obligations of couples who are about to marry. Premarital agreements are rare for the majority of the population, primarily because couples believe that having one is anticipating a divorce. However, there are some very smart reasons all couples should at least consider putting an agreement in place.
Intelligent Reasons for a Premarital Agreement
- To preserve family fortunes for children from an earlier marriage.
- To eliminate, limit, or set any future alimony/spousal support obligations.
- To predetermine the parties’ rights and duties during marriage, including child care, housework, career sacrifices, and managerial responsibilities related to family finances.
- To detail what property belongs to each party upon entering the marriage and who will have management rights over that property.
- To ensure a certain religious upbringing of a child, especially if the marriage is later dissolved (limited).
- To keep one spouse’s income separate to pay off premarital debts or to meet spousal-maintenance obligations associated with an earlier marriage.
- To clarify how taxes will be filed and who will be responsible for income-tax liability.
- To provide for the disposition of the parties’ property upon divorce.
- To provide for the disposition of property upon the death of one spouse (the agreement could supersede or eliminate the need for a will that covers the concerned property).
A couple in love simply does not want to entertain that a divorce is a possibility. We want every married couple to succeed. Unfortunately, the statistics are simply too high not to at least explore the purpose behind these types of agreements.
Emotional Commitment Versus Legal Entity
Couples should keep in mind that their love and commitment to each other is not determined by the status of the government-ruled legal entity created upon marriage. A marriage is a legal entity theoretically similar to creating a business entity. There are legal aspects that should be treated as such.
In other words, a couple who enter into a property agreement are not necessarily believing a divorce is in their future. Rather, the couple is controlling how the law will treat their property if the other spouse decides to dissolve the legal entity in the future.
Similar to insurance policies, we hope that we never need them. But prudent people know that a car accident–even one that is not their fault–is enough of a possibility to warrant a tool that can help make the event a little less traumatic.
Divorce is often one of life’s more traumatic events. For a divorce to happen, at least one of the spouses must choose it to happen. And the law does not force anyone to remain married. Therefore, each spouse must realize that, just like each originally chose to get married, that same free-will can be used to decided to get un-married. Pre-determining what is to happen is often better than fighting about these things in the middle of the trauma.
If you are going to consider a marital agreement, get an attorney involved early in the discussion. Call Vince Handler today and he will provide consultation from an unemotional perspective before you make a final decision.