Is a prenuptial agreement right for you?

How do you decide if a prenuptial agreement is a good choice for you and your future spouse? Many engaged couples do not want to discuss prenuptial agreements because it is a difficult conversation to have. However, there are some very practical reasons for signing a prenuptial agreement before the big wedding day. Here are some answers to common questions about these agreements.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a contractual agreement that two people enter into prior to marriage. The purpose of this contract is to protect each party’s assets in case of a divorce. It must be agreed upon prior to the marriage and needs to contain the following elements to be valid:

  • Must be in writing
  • Voluntary
  • Full disclosure at the time it is executed
  • Cannot be unconscionable
  • Must be signed and notarized

A prenuptial agreement addresses issues such as property rights, alimony and distribution of assets in the case of the death of one of the spouses.

When can you use a prenuptial agreement?

Any couple entering into marriage can use a prenuptial agreement. While it may not feel like a romantic idea, there are some very practical uses for prenups. For example, a prenup is beneficial if one or both parties entering the marriage have business or personal assets to protect. This agreement would list the assets of each person prior to entering into the marriage. If the marriage ends in divorce, the inventoried assets would remain with the original owner. It also protects property and assets if one person dies. This is especially beneficial to older couples who may already have children from a previous marriage. Prenuptial agreements can also address issues with any future income or assets from a business or other source.

Are there any situations in which you cannot use one?

Prenuptial agreements are designed to address financial issues and cannot determine child support or child custody issues. These issues are dealt with through the court system at the time of divorce because they are considered to be issues of public policy. A prenup cannot address personal issues in a marriage such as details about child rearing, educational considerations or where to spend the holidays. These matters are best handled in a private agreement between you and your spouse.

Why should we consider using a prenuptial agreement?

Signing a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse not only protects your financial assets, it brings peace of mind. It may be awkward or difficult to bring up, but addressing financial issues prior to the marriage is beneficial to both parties in the long run. Fortunately, a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the legal issues involved and draft a contract that is agreeable and fair to both parties. Contact a lawyer at Most & Schneid, P.C. in White Plains at 914-997-9181 or in Garden City at 516-453-9000. We can evaluate your situation and answer any questions you might have about a prenuptial agreement.