Before marriage, couples often shy away from discussions of money, and their reluctance is understandable: Finance and romance seem mutually exclusive.
In fact, however, bringing financial issues into the open can be healthy, and it can be done without a full-scale return to the days of arranged marriages and fiercely negotiated dowries. Today, a couple can enter into a prenuptial agreement before the wedding, and that agreement will govern a wide range of financial matters in the future.
What can you put into a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement can cover a wide range of financial matters both during and after the marriage.
You can use a prenuptial agreement to specify whether some property individually obtained during the marriage will remain the property of one spouse and will not be treated as community property.
You can keep property, including property that might later be acquired by inheritance, in one spouse’s family.
You can limit one spouse’s liability for the debts of the other spouse.
You can define your respective financial responsibilities during the marriage, separating responsibility for household expenses, specifying how bank and credit accounts will be handled, and determining how taxes will be filed.
You can make provision for a spouse’s children from a previous marriage.
You can decide how property will be divided in the event of divorce and, in some jurisdictions, whether alimony will be part of the divorce settlement.
The precise answer to the question “What can you put into a prenup?” varies from state to state, but it’s fair to say that almost anything that is otherwise legal can be included, except for an agreement that defines the terms of support for the couple’s children.
How do you get a prenup?
The hallmarks of a valid, enforceable prenuptial agreement are disclosure and fairness. Unless both parties disclose all relevant details of their finances, the agreement is readily challenged, and it makes good sense to provide that information well in advance of the wedding day. The party receiving that information should have enough time to understand its implications. When information is provided at the last minute, a prenuptial agreement lawyer can argue that it was tantamount to receiving no information at all.
Demonstrating the requisite degree of fairness does not necessarily require that the agreement be fair by some particular standard. It does, however, necessitate the involvement of legal counsel. Each spouse must be provided with his or her own prenuptial agreement lawyer, someone with undivided loyalty to the individual, not to the parties as a couple.
The question “How do you get a prenup?” is only part of the ultimate question. In order to arrive at a prenuptial agreement that works, one that is valid and enforceable, both parties must put their cards on the table and each must have separate legal representation.