Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is also known as a premarital agreement, prenup, or antenuptial agreement. It is a contract that is written up and signed prior to an official marriage union. It is a contract between the soon to be couple that states regulations on the relationship in the event of divorce or death of a spouse. While a prenuptial agreement can include many things in it, it is most commonly drafted to cover the issues of division of assets, property division, or guidelines on alimony paid by the higher income spouse.

In the United States a prenuptial agreement cannot put any regulations on what will happen with the children, since this is an issue decided in the custody battle. It is typically requested by a wealthier spouse, hoping to protect their finances. In some states the lower income spouse can receive more than half of the property of their spouse. Financial debt from a spouse can also be incurred through divorce, but a prenuptial agreement may help prevent against that.

A prenuptial agreement must be mutual between the two parties and voluntary on both their parts. It should be fair and fully disclosed up front. If a prenuptial agreement is proven to be unfair, the court may choose to not enforce it. Originally many judges were unwilling to recognize prenuptial agreements since they believed that they encouraged divorce. Today they are nationally recognized, but the laws relating to a prenuptial agreement vary between states.

A growing trend is for a couple to sign a cohabitation agreement; a prenuptial that is only for a cohabiting relationship not wishing to marry. A prenup can be beneficial for a business owner who does not want any portion of ownership to go to their spouse in the event of divorce. It is also important that the lower income spouse know what they are signing and be well informed of their rights. Both spouses should have a lawyer with them to ensure the prenuptial is being enforced.

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