What Should Your Prenuptial Agreement Cover?
Prenuptial agreements serve to protect specific rights of each spouse in a marriage should that marriage end in divorce. These legal agreements are entered into before the marriage and typically address areas such as each spouse’s financial rights and responsibilities in the union, how assets will be allocated between them, and how any assets and property acquired during the marriage will be managed if there is a divorce.
Topics to Address in a Prenuptial Agreement
Your prenuptial agreement can include as many or as few details as you need and want it to; after all, it’s yours. However, there are several provisions that most divorce attorneys recommend a prenuptial agreement address so that it completely protects you and your family.
Saving and Spending Strategies
Before marriage, it’s wise to plan how you and your spouse will approach saving and spending money. Illustrating your specific strategies for saving for retirement and investing can go a long way to circumventing any future disagreements.
Even though you should have a will, it’s still beneficial to outline how you want your property and assets managed if you pass away before your spouse does.
In most marriages, contributions to 401(k)s and pensions are shared amongst spouses. For example, suppose you want these to remain separate or elect how they should be divided. In that case, you will need to include your specific desires in your prenup agreement.
If you or your future spouse plan on investing in or owning a business, you can detail how much of the company and its profits each spouse should receive if you divorce. A prenup can also include conditions about how much money to invest, ways to invest, and other financial determinations.
Provisions for Children from Previous Relationships
Although child support isn’t typically included in a prenup, you can add particular provisions for your children from a previous relationship if you have them. For example, you might want to stipulate that they receive a portion of your retirement.
These agreements are meant to ensure that anything done or said during your marriage or even potential divorce proceedings stays confidential.
Other Areas to Address in Case of Divorce
It’s also crucial to include provisions about what to do in the event of a divorce in your prenup, such as the following.
One of the most contested matters in a divorce is the division of assets and property. Suppose you already own your own business before marriage. In that case, you can elect it (and any increase in its value) as your own separate property, ensuring that you get to keep these assets in a divorce. It’s also wise to address pieces of property that are important to you within the prenuptial agreement. For instance, if you want to earmark a particular property or an asset for your kids, you can include this in your prenup. In addition, possession such as family heirlooms or pets can be included in this agreement.
Protection Against the Other Spouse’s Debts
Many individuals who are about to get married will use their prenuptial agreement to require that they not be responsible for their spouses’ debts—pre or post marriage. This helps to protect their own financial stability. If a divorce occurs, each spouse will then be responsible for their own debts.
Alimony or Spousal Support/Maintenance
Alimony is sometimes awarded to a spouse in a divorce. Typically, it’s only awarded if one or both of these applies:
- The receiving spouse has a smaller income than their significant other
- The receiving spouse has sacrificed aspects of their career to take care of the children
Before getting married, you and your future spouse can stipulate how much these payments might be.
If your spouse gives you a gift that you might want to keep after the divorce, you can detail your claim to the item in the prenuptial agreement. If you so desire, this could include your engagement or wedding rings.
Consulting attorneys to get through a divorce is often quite costly. Detailing what you will each pay for attorneys’ fees can remove future confusion if you decide at some point that your marriage has come to an end.
What You Can’t Include in a Prenup
While these are typical provisions most individuals choose to put in their prenup agreement, you have many additional options in what to put in yours. However, keep in mind that the courts won’t allow provisions that deal with:
- Encouraging divorce
- Child support or custody of children arriving after the marriage
- Non-financial stipulations, such as intimate relations or when or how often in-laws can visit
For questions or help drafting your own prenup, reach out to an experienced prenuptial agreement attorney today.