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.
Any of the "don'ts" below could nullify your prenuptial agreement.
- Don't conceal assets from your future spouse; be open and honest about your holdings.
- Don't force or coerce a party into signing an agreement; both parties must be willing participants.
- 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 fiancé. Discuss your prenuptial agreement with a family law attorney today. Contact a law firm, such as Novenstern Fabriani & Gaudio, LLP, for more information.