You don't have to have a diamond ring the size of Mount Everest to need a prenuptial agreement. They're not just for wealthy people. The truth is that if you have assets or property -- or children from a previous marriage -- it's a good idea to have a prenuptial agreement in place before you get married.
A prenuptial agreement, or "prenup", is a contract between two parties who are getting married that settles financial questions before a divorce or the death of one spouse. It may seem like a very unromantic gesture, but it's really a matter of smart financial planning.
You wouldn't want to die without a will, right? You would want your estate handled in the way you choose versus having the state choose. A prenup operates on the same concept -- your finances can be handled by your choice or they can be handled by the state. Which would you want?
A prenup should definitely spell out the financial rights (and responsibilities) of each party in the marriage. It can also dictate the distribution of property in case of a divorce or the death of one spouse. It can also spell out how children from a previous marriage will be taken care of in case of a divorce.
What can't be in the prenup? Anything illegal, for starters. You also can't supersede the court's authority. For example, you can't spell out a custody arrangement in a prenup. What's in the best interests of the child at the time of divorce is a matter to be determined by the courts, not by your marriage contract.
Most prenups also contain a start date and end date. Most will take effect on the wedding day and will have no end time table. However, you can structure a prenup so that it takes effect at a certain time after the marriage. It is also possible to have the prenup dissolve once the marriage has lasted for a certain time.
Remember that a prenuptial agreement is primarily used for financial issues. Other issues, such as child care or division of labor in the household, can be handled in other ways.
It goes without saying that if you are going to get a prenup, you need to begin having that discussion way before the wedding date. Money is a huge part of any marriage, and difficulties with money have ruined quite a few. It's important to have financial discussions with your future spouse, regardless of whether you will use a prenup or not.
Make sure you have a firm idea of what your assets and property are, as well as any liabilities or debts. Think about what your goals are and what the key issues are that need to be addressed in your prenup.
Above all else, you need to be honest with your partner. If one party is dishonest or attempts to hide something, it could invalidate the prenup later. Both parties need to agree on the goals of the prenup.
The answer is yes. The real question is whether it's a good idea. As with all major decisions, it's in your best interest to seek the advice of an attorney who can help draft a prenuptial agreement that will hold up without issue.
If you are in the Atlanta metro area and need help with a prenuptial agreement, contact Family Matters Law Group today to set up an initial consultation. We can help you identify your long-range goals, and craft an agreement that helps you retain control of your money and your assets.