Marriage is the legal union of two individuals. Ideally, marriage lasts forever. Two people are so in love that they never want to be apart. Unfortunately, not every marriage lasts forever. This is where a prenuptial agreement (“prenup”) comes into consideration. A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between the soon to be spouses about how certain assets and issues will be handled in the event that the marriage ends in divorce. Because a prenup is seen by some as “preparing for divorce,” it often gest a bad reputation. However, making a prenup does not mean that the couple is planning on getting a divorce. Instead it is merely a tool to plan for every contingency that may arise over the course of a marriage. No one wants to enter into a marriage thinking it will end and their true love was not in fact their true love, but it is a good idea to plan for the possibility and contingencies that may arise in the future. The following are reasons to consider a prenup before marriage.
The property that each spouse has before marriage is theirs. The property acquired before marriage will not usually cause issue in dividing marital property in the event of a divorce. However, property that is acquired during the marriage becomes marital property and can be divided upon divorce. A spouse that anticipates a large inheritance, or some other asset, a prenup can protect that in the event of divorce. Instead of being divided at the end of marriage, the spouses will know what property belongs to who at all times. Inheritance, property, and other assets that are missing from a prenup can be lost to the soon-to-be ex-spouse.
In many instances, one spouse will have more debt than the other spouse at the outset of a marriage. Whether that debt is from student loans, credit cards, or any other debt, it is wise to keep debts separate. Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, the spouse whose debt it is not could be liable for it anyway. A prenup gives the opportunity to address the issue of debt before the marriage and outline who will be responsible for which debts after divorce.
Similar to one spouse likely having more debt than the other at the beginning of a marriage, it is common for one spouse to have a higher income than the other spouse. In many divorce cases, spousal support payments, or alimony, are often at issue. When one spouse is dependent on the other, alimony payments will often be awarded to one spouse in a divorce in order for them to not be financially ruined after divorce. Leaving alimony payments up to the court can be risky because there is no guarantee the amount of alimony that will be awarded. A prenup can eliminate this uncertainty by clearly stating how much spousal support will be paid to the dependent spouse in the event of divorce.
Not everyone is entering into a marriage without prior marriages behind them. As such, often times one spouse will already have children with a previous spouse. Children from a previous marriage are not usually an issue in the subsequent divorces their parents are involved in, but a prenup can nevertheless be used to protect them. A prenup can outline the assets or property that are to be passed to the children so that they never become an issue in divorce. They can also outline any other financial plans that the spouse has for their children.
Accelerating the Divorce
Statistics show that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Therefore, it is not unreasonable that couples want to prepare for the possibility that their marriage might end in divorce. A prenup can greatly affect the entire divorce process. Depending on the complexities of the particular case, divorces can take time to be finalized. A prenup helps to speed up this process because some of the harder issues are already determined. Alimony payments and property distribution are just a couple of the issues that can slow down a divorce. A prenup that already outlines a plan for these assets eliminates the determinations within the divorce.
If you need help with a prenup look no further than Massey, Statser & Nichols, PC. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you determine whether a prenuptial agreement is appropriate for you. Our attorneys will take the time to explain the intricacies of the agreement and the consequences that they can have on your marriage. We know that you want to live happily ever after with your spouse, but it is a good idea to plan for all possibilities. Contact us today for more information.