Prenuptial Agreements: What To Know

A legal document that can cover you in the event of a separation may not be on your list of things to do before your upcoming wedding, but it should be. A prenuptial agreement should be made several months before your big day, and it can be custom-made to address the financial issues that matter to you and your soon-to-be spouse. Read to learn more about prenuptial agreements and what should and should not be on yours.

What Should Be In The Agreement?

There are very few rules about what a prenuptial agreement should look like, but you should stick to financial issues that matter to both of you. Consider including the following:

  • How property jointly owed will be handled in the event of a divorce. Keep in mind that "property" means everything from real estate to vehicles to pets.
  • How property owed by one party will be treated after (during) the marriage.
  • How the household bills be paid (who pays for what?).
  • How savings will be funded, such as funds for the childrens' education, retirement accounts and emergency savings accounts.
  • Financial arrangements for children of other relationships in the event of death. While a will is also mandatory, a provision in the prenuptial agreement could serve as a reinforcement of a contested will.

What Should Not Be In The Agreement

  • Some issues involving minor children of the relationship, such as child support and custody, should not be addressed in this manner. State law supersedes privately-held agreements like prenuptial agreements and the family court system will preside over this issue in the divorce decree.
  • Leave frivolous, non-financial issues out of the agreement, such as where you will live, who does what chores, where the children will attend school, etc.
  • Though it varies somewhat by state, the issue of spousal support should not be addressed in this manner.

More Don'ts

Any of the "don'ts" below could nullify your prenuptial agreement.

  1. Don't conceal assets from your future spouse; be open and honest about your holdings.
  2. Don't force or coerce a party into signing an agreement; both parties must be willing participants.
  3. Don't create an agreement that is conspicuously and obviously unfair to the other party.

It's no surprise that the issues that should be included in a prenuptial agreement are also issues that most couples need to discuss and agree upon before they say "I do". Consider the creation of a prenuptial agreement an opportunity to talk about these issues with your fiancĂ©. Discuss your prenuptial agreement with a family law attorney today. Contact a law firm, such as Novenstern Fabriani & Gaudio, LLP, for more information.