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Pros and Cons of Using a Prenuptial Agreement

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What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is 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 usually need to 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 the process..

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. 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.

Photo of page author Adam Vukovic

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 12-07-2015 11:18 PM PST

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