Marriages are granted at the state level. If those same marriages result in a divorce, states will also play a part in dissolving a couple’s union and distributing their debts and properties. Although couples do not enter into marriages with the ultimate goal of getting a divorce, it is always wise to plan ahead should a union end in divorce. The best way for individuals entering into a marriage to protect themselves is by drafting a prenuptial agreement with their future spouse.
Do You Really Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
A premarital agreement, or prenuptial agreement as it is often called, is a legal document that specifies financial responsibilities of both spouses in the event their marriage ends in divorce. You are not required to have one to get married. But for couples that own real estate prior to their marriage, own businesses, have high incomes, and considerable assets, it is wise to draft a premarital agreement to protect financial interests during divorce.
Remember, you don’t have to use your prenuptial agreement if you remain happily married, but it is reassuring to have one in place in the event a marriage unravels. Often, this makes the entire divorce easier when it comes to distributing properties, debts, and other assets collected during a marriage.
Drafting a Prenuptial Agreement
Couples can attempt to draft their own prenuptial agreement. However, since state laws can vary quite a bit and courts often scrutinize these documents during a divorce, it is always advisable to consult with a family law attorney. In fact, two lawyers should be consulted, one for each person getting married.
When both of you receive independent legal advice, a prenuptial agreement is more likely to be an accurate reflection of each of your individual desires. This can create balance in the terms of the prenuptial agreement and ensures both spouses fully understand the legally binding agreement they are entering into.
What to Include
Before retaining a family law lawyer to help you draft a prenuptial agreement, you and your future spouse should discuss what it will include. After you both agree to the essential terms it is helpful to outline them in writing. This will ensure the lawyer has the necessary information they will need to draft an equitable prenup that is a reflection of both sides’ desires.
The specifics of your premarital agreement will depend on the financial state of the spouses before they are married. Some common topics prenuptial agreements discuss include:
- Estate planning
- Business handling
- Filing tax returns
- Types of bank accounts used (joint or separate)
- Division of property
- Alimony considerations
- How household expenses will be paid
A family law attorney with experience in matrimonial law will be able to review the terms you wish to include in your prenuptial agreement. In addition to ensuring it accurately reflects your desires, they will draft a document that meets the requirements of the state you reside in.