Pros and Cons of Using a Prenuptial Agreement
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What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is basically a contract signed by a couple before they enter into marriage with one another. It is sometimes called a “prenup”, pre-marital agreement, or an ante-nuptial agreement. It mostly covers property distribution in the event that the couple divorces. However, it can also cover other issues involved in the relationship.
Most couples will create a prenuptial agreement if either partner:
- Owns real estate property such as a home
- Owns a significant amount of assets like stocks or retirement accounts
- Has children from a prior marriage
- Will be supporting the family during critical periods, such as a child’s college funds
Prenuptial agreements must usually be in writing in order to be enforceable.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using a Prenuptial Agreement?
Although prenuptial agreements are becoming more commonplace, some couples may be hesitant to create one. When deciding whether to use a prenuptial agreement, it helps to consider the pros and cons associated with them.
Some advantages of prenuptial agreements can include:
- Property protection: Prenuptial agreements help define which items of property each partner will be entitled to in the event of divorce or separation
- Avoid costs in the future: If most of the legal issues are covered by a prenuptial agreement, the couple may be able to avoid costly litigation in the future
- Special provisions: Besides property matters, the partners are free to include special provisions for matters that may be unique to their situation
- Debts: Pre-marital agreements can also determine how liability for debts will be distributed between the partners. The agreement can also help protect each party from issues with creditors
Disadvantages of a prenuptial agreement may include:
- May be unnecessary: State laws sometimes cover many of the issues that are addressed in a prenuptial agreement. Also, most states don’t allow certain issues to be resolved through a prenup, such as child support matters- these are resolved through court mechanisms
- May be too early: At the engagement stage of a relationship, it may be too early to need a prenuptial agreement. This is especially the case for younger couples, who have not yet acquired a significant amount of property or assets
- Issues with “trust”: Many feel that even bringing up the idea of a prenuptial agreement indicates a lack of trust. While prenuptial agreements cannot encourage divorce, some feel that the use of a prenuptial agreement leaves the couple open to the possibility of separation or divorce.
Thus, a couple should weigh the various pros and cons of prenuptial agreements. Should they decide to create one, it can be helpful to hire a lawyer to help with a process- the laws governing property ownership in a marriage can vary widely by state.
Should I Get a Lawyer for Help With a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are becoming a common aspect of marital arrangements today. If you need assistance in drafting a prenuptial agreement, an experienced family lawyer in your area can help you. Or, if you are having a legal dispute involving a prenuptial agreement, your attorney will be able to defend your interests in a court of law.
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Last Modified: 04-23-2012 03:18 PM PDT
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