Prenuptial Agreements 101

Getting married is a major life event, and finances are on the minds of many couples who are thinking of spending the rest of their lives together. One of the ways that couples can make financial decisions ahead of time in case of divorce or death is through a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup”.

If you think that a prenup is only for extremely wealthy people, think again. If you have assets (or significant debts) or you have children from a previous marriage, it might be in your best interest to have a prenuptial agreement drawn up.

Who Needs A Prenup?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that primarily deals with financial issues that may arise. If you get a divorce, your assets and property are going to be divided, prenup or not. However, with a prenuptial agreement, you and your future spouse can determine an arrangement that suits your circumstances, versus letting the state decide how it’s going to play out.

There are many situations in which a prenup can help protect your money and your assets. 

  • Are you planning on giving an inheritance to any children from a previous marriage?
  • Are you planning on receiving an inheritance yourself and want to protect it from being split up?
  • Do you want to avoid having to take on your spouse’s debts in case of a divorce?
  • Do you want to protect assets that you owned before your marriage from being included in a divorce settlement?

Notice that a prenuptial agreement is for financial matters. It’s about property, assets, and debts. It’s not about child-care arrangements or visitation/custody issues.

What’s Allowed In A Prenuptial Agreement?

Think of a prenuptial agreement as a contract that spells out two basic things: what each party is bringing to the marriage, and how things will be split up in case the marriage ends.

A prenup should clearly spell out what assets and liabilities each party has before getting married. The last thing you want is to have a major argument years later about who owned what or who had what debt. This contract should clearly specify what each party owns and what debts each party is responsible for.

Signing an agreement before the marriage does not absolve either party from being responsible for their debts. Just because you get married doesn’t necessarily mean that your debts automatically become your spouse’s debts. You are still legally responsible for the money that you owe.

The prenup will also cover how property and assets are to be divided in case of divorce. Perhaps each spouse gets to keep their own credit card or retirement account. You can also decide in advance who gets to stay in the house or drive a particular car. A prenup allows you to decide how property will be split up. It can even cover potential alimony payments.

The one thing that is absolutely not allowed in a prenup is any mention of child support or custody. These items will be determined by the court based on what is in the child’s best interests, and you cannot override the authority of the court by settling this in a prenup.

Talk To An Attorney

If you are thinking of getting a prenuptial agreement signed before your big day, it’s probably not a good idea to try and write it yourself. An experienced attorney can help you set goals and craft a contract that is clear and legally enforceable.

If you are in the Atlanta metro area and need help with a prenup, contact Family Matters Law Group today for an initial consultation. We’re ready to help and set up an agreement that protects your money and your assets.