Should wedding plans include a prenuptial agreement?

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In the months leading up to a wedding, a couple makes a multitude of decisions ranging from the very important -- venue, guest list, food -- to the relatively unimportant -- chair covers, napkins, party favors.

Many legal experts, however, express astonishment over the idea that so many soon-to-be-married couples are willing to devote so much time and energy to the minutia of their wedding ceremonies but virtually none whatsoever to planning for their future.

Specifically, these experts are perturbed over the fact that with the divorce rate currently sitting at nearly 50 percent here in the U.S., so many couples are forfeiting the opportunity to execute -- or even consider -- a prenuptial agreement.

In general, a prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract executed by a couple prior to their walk down the aisle, which dictates how spousal support will be handled and property division will proceed in the event of a divorce.

Proponents of prenuptial agreements concede that while the idea of planning for a divorce before marriage is not entirely romantic, it can actually have a positive effect on the union moving forward. For example, by sitting down to have a frank conversation about the prenup, the couple can ensure that they are seeing eye-to-eye on such important issues as finances and family.

Experts also point out that every state already has detailed laws in place concerning spousal support, child support (typically cannot be included in a prenup), property division and child custody, meaning that couples in a way are already subject to a sort of default, quasi-prenuptial agreement. Executing their own prenup, they argue, puts the decisions on these important matters squarely in their hands.

If a couple does indeed make the decision to execute a prenuptial agreement, experts offer the following tips:

  • Give yourself at least six months for the process and don't be unduly influenced by outside pressure
  • Retain separate legal representation to review and discuss the document
  • Pay attention to your instinct
  • Don't sign unless you are absolutely certain of and comfortable with the terms

If you have questions about executing a prenuptial agreement, or are considering a divorce and would like to understand your options concerning property division, consider taking the time to meet with a qualified legal professional.

The following post is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Sign this, or else! How prenup powerplays prevail," Susan Pease Gadoua, May 22, 2013

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