For most people, getting married is exciting. You’re starting a lifelong journey with someone you love. It’s hopeful, happy, and enrapturing.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of paperwork and legal stuff you have to deal with along the way. Marriage licenses can be more annoying than they have any right to be. Planning the event itself can take a lot of work.
And then you also have to think about the future. It’s not the most fun topic, but it’s possible that you won’t be married to this person for the rest of your life. That’s one reason why a lot of legal experts talk about prenuptial agreements. It might be something very important for you and your partner, and when done right can protect both parties.
What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Do?
Often called a prenup, a prenuptial agreement is a written, legally binding contract that aims to protect both parties when entering into a marriage. In less legal terms, it sets some rules that potentially govern the marriage and can also settle disputes in the event the marriage fails.
Most people think that prenups are just about protecting property, and that can definitely be part of the agreement. But arguably the most important use of such an agreement is to protect children.
If you already have kids before getting married, the contract can set rules for custody, inheritance, and guardianship.
When Should You Get One?
If you have kids outside of the new marriage, then you should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement. Outside of that, there are other situations that make a prenup more appealing. If any of these apply, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the possibility of a marital contract.
You Own a Business
If you own a business, you probably want the right to retain control of that business. In the event of a divorce, it’s possible that you could lose half of your business. It’s a frightening prospect.
A prenup can also impact succession in the event of your untimely demise. It’s not fun to think about, but you’re the business owner. What happens to the company without you? Your prenuptial agreement can impact how all of that goes, if you take the time to set it up first.
If you want your spouse to take over, you can make that clear. If you don’t think they are suited to run the business, you can account for that in the agreement too. The contract is there to protect the business more than anything else in this case.
You Have Assets
This is what most people think about when considering a prenup. You have assets. If the marriage doesn’t last a lifetime, then you want to make sure those assets aren’t split down the middle.
The agreement can definitely help to protect your interests, but keep in mind that these things are complicated. You absolutely need to spend time with your attorney to make proper arrangements.
And even with the prenup, assets acquired by a married couple, as a married couple, are likely to be evenly divided in the case of divorce. The prenup is primarily there to protect what was yours before the union.
Your Partner Has Debts
This is an inverse of the previous idea, and too many people overlook it. It’s possible to be saddled with your partner’s debts. That can happen during or even after marriage. If you want to avoid that, a prenuptial agreement is important.
You can also set the agreement up to protect your partner from your own debts. These contracts have a fair amount of flexibility. Work with your attorney, and you can build an agreement that is mutually beneficial for both parties.
Are They Always Good?
Clearly, there are compelling reasons to get a prenuptial agreement. Does that mean you should always get one no matter what? No.
Generally speaking, a prenup is better to have than not, but there are plenty of circumstances where it’s not ideal. The most obvious is if it creates too much tension with your spouse. There is a stigma around these agreements, and that stigma can prove problematic.
Outside of that, there are cases where the prenup is unlikely to really work. If you and your partner already have entangled assets before you get married, the prenup will have steep limits on what it can accomplish.
Of course, the best way to really understand your options is to involve your attorney. You can work with Setzer Law Firm to see whether a prenup makes sense for you and your partner. You can explore contract options and come to a decision that really is best for everyone. Contact us today, and we can help you understand the full range of options and benefits of a prenuptial agreement.