Getting married is a big step to take, and the preparation can be stressful. One important step every couple should take is setting up a prenuptial agreement, which is often shorted to a prenup. Just like the name suggests, this is an agreement that you and your future spouse sign into before the wedding.
Prenups can be a touchy subject, but the reality is that every couple needs one. Not getting a prenup can come back to haunt you later. Here’s all that you need to know about the prenup process and why you should get one.
The Basics on a Prenup
It’s not hard to understand how a prenup works. A prenup is a legal contract that each spouse enters into before they get married, and it covers exactly what will happen in the event of a divorce. If the couple stays together, the prenup will never come into effect.
A less common agreement is a postnuptial agreement. This functions exactly the same as a prenup, with the key difference being that the couple agrees to it after they get married. The risk with a postnuptial agreement is that you and your spouse may not agree to terms, and at that point, you’re already married. While a postnuptial agreement works, it’s better to sort everything out before your wedding day.
What to Cover on Your Prenup
Now let’s examine what a prenup should cover. Keep in mind that this will depend quite a bit on you, your future spouse and what assets you two have. A few key areas to consider for your prenup are:
Marital assets are often the most complex part of putting together a prenup. In a typical marriage that takes place in Manhattan, assets that each spouse had before the marriage remain their property. Anything a couple gets together is a shared marital asset, and anything one spouse buys alone belongs to them.
Although this is how it generally works, it’s best not to rely on this, because a court could decide differently. That’s why it’s better to clarify who will keep what assets in a divorce through a prenup.
A prenup can clarify whether either spouse will pay spousal support to the other after the marriage. If so, it should specify the amount paid and how long this will last. If there will be no spousal support, the prenup should clarify that.
Child custody and support arrangements are obviously important for couples with children, but even if you and your future spouse don’t have kids yet, you should still include provisions in the prenup for what will happen if you have kids and later get divorced.
Benefits of a Prenup
People often find the idea of getting a prenup unromantic, and even though that may be true, it’s the smart thing to do. A prenup is like an insurance policy. You obviously never want to need it, but if you’re in a situation where you do, then you’ll be glad you got it.
Divorces are often expensive, especially if you and your spouse can’t agree on the terms and go through a contested divorce. And at that point, neither of you have control of what’s going to happen, because the court will decide. With a prenup, you two can at least figure everything out yourselves.
Consulting with a Lawyer
You and your spouse can agree on the terms of a prenup, but it’s best for each of you to have your own attorney look it over. Here’s why – Manhattan courts can and have tossed out valid prenups for all kinds of reasons. If your prenup heavily favors one spouse over the other, a court could decide not to use it.
A lawyer can check your prenup to see that it’s balanced and that it’s fair to you. Since you and your future spouse are separate parties here and essentially on opposite sides of the prenup, you each need your own lawyer to represent your interests.
When you each have your own lawyers, it’s also unlikely that the prenup will be declared invalid later because one party signed it under duress.
The bottom line is that if you’re going to get married, a prenup is the wise choice, and a lawyer will help you handle it correctly.
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