Prenuptial agreements are a good idea in most marriages. While many think they are only appropriate for rich people, the reality is that as couples enter into marriage later in life, they are more likely to have concerns that can be addressed in a prenup. There has been growing awareness of the benefits of prenups over the last decade and that is continuing with the new trend of COVID prenuptial agreements.
Couples in serious relationships are deciding to marry now because of the risks associated with COVID. They want a quick civil ceremony and contact an attorney to get a prenup drafted as soon as possible. While it is good that they realize the value of a prenuptial agreement, they also need to be careful to devote the time needed to make well-informed decisions.
Prenups set forth how the parties want to divide assets and debt in the event of divorce or death. The parties can also address rights to spousal support during and after the marriage. Resolving these issues means delving into each person’s circumstances and expectations. For example, the parties may have come into the marriage with a significant disparity in income, assets, and debt. One party may be expecting an inheritance or have children from a prior marriage that he or she wants to protect. The couple may also have different financial goals and values, such as those concerning the kind of lifestyle they want, whether one spouse will stay home to raise children or go back to school or change careers.
Every couple has unique concerns and one of the chief benefits of a prenup is that it encourages the parties to have in-depth financial discussions. In addition, it compels full disclosure because a prenup is only enforceable to the extent that parties disclose all money, property, and debt they have accumulated. As a result, the parties must take time to fully understand their respective financial issues and their marital rights with and without a prenup. Rushing a prenup can lead to costly decisions.
Ideally, the parties should be talking about their finances and expectations in marriage long before they set a date for the wedding. The longer they wait to raise these issues and ask for a prenup, the more disruptive it is to the relationship because the parties feel awkward about negotiating an agreement. However, if the parties are not comfortable having an in-depth conversation before marriage, they are likely to have disputes after marriage.
Like any contract, prenups should be carefully negotiated and vetted by an attorney for each party to ensure they are fair and address the needs of each spouse. If you are considering marriage, start these conversations with your significant other. Then speak to an experienced attorney about a prenup once you are engaged.