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Happily Ever After? The Top Things to Address In a Prenup

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Most people understand that prenuptial agreements can provide valuable protections for married individuals with disproportionate wealth who wish to protect themselves or their families in the event of a divorce. But what, exactly, does a prenup entail?

Sometimes, people have the mistaken assumption that if a couple is considering a prenup, they are anticipating divorce before they’ve even gotten married. The problem with this type of thinking is that it assumes a rather rosy view of marriage, one that tends to be highly idealistic. The reality is that circumstances can often change, and nothing is guaranteed. Particularly in cases where there is a lot of money or property at stake, a prenup is an excellent way to protect individuals should something go awry with the marriage. In many cases, a prenup that is drafted while couples are in love and are getting along well is strongly advisable, relative to a messy, prenup-less divorce where emotions are running high and the people involved are not acting rationally.

An air-tight prenup should always include the following:

Property and Finances

A strong prenup will first and foremost dictate what should happen to property owned at the time of marriage in the event of a divorce. The document will say exactly what should happen to the family home, summer home and all other expensive luxury goods and assets. However, couples can be flexible in drafting these agreements. For example, in a case where a woman is entitled to keep the home in the event of a divorce, there may be a provision that requires her former spouse to continue to pay the maintenance fees.

Additionally, a solid prenuptial agreement will also list what should happen to accounts such as joint bank accounts, debts accrued, retirement funds and education funds that the parties accrued prior to the marriage. Lastly a prenup must have a comprehensive list of clear party’s, assets, debts, and income, including the current values of some.

Spousal Support Obligations

In a traditional divorce, a court may opt to award alimony to a partner who earns less, in order to help that person maintain the lifestyle that person was used to living while in the marriage. However, with a prenuptial agreement, couples can work together to dictate this number long before they even contemplate divorce.

Directions as to Education and Religious Matters to Future Born Children

A strong prenup should consider what happens in the event of children born from the marriage. In particular, educational provisions can ensure the parents are saving money for the child’s future, and religious provisions can ensure that the child is raised in accordance with certain religious beliefs as promised by one parent to another when the prenuptial agreement was signed.

State Law and Dispute Resolution Clauses

Prenups are essentially contracts that, for the most part, allow parties to contract as to their wishes in the event of a split. (There are some provisions that courts will refuse to enforce as part of a prenup, such as child custody stipulations and visitation rights in the event of a divorce.) Therefore, much like a typical contract, parties can contract for which state’s laws they would like applied to their prenup, as well as issues like dispute resolution methods in the case of a disagreement.

If you are on the brink of marriage but fear there may be a lot at stake in the case of a divorce, contact the team at Reese Beisbier and Associates to learn about our experience in drafting prenups. We draw upon our years of family law experience to draft a prenuptial agreement that is fair to both parties, so that they can feel protected as they enter a life of marital bliss.

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