By Kecia Van’t Hof and Isabella Erickson
Getting married is a momentous occasion, and a major life change. Before the big day, you should consider how getting married will change your finances going forward. Getting a prenuptial agreement is a smart way to protect your assets and provide certainty for the future.
A common misconception is that a prenuptial agreement only applies when you get a divorce. In reality, prenuptial agreements can do much more. Any couple planning to marry should consider a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich; they are useful for the middle class as well. People who own property, businesses, or any other important assets they wish to retain complete ownership of should include those assets in a prenuptial agreement.
During marriage, the prenuptial agreement can spell out what either spouse may do with the asset. In the event of divorce, the ownership of the asset is clear.
Alimony may be decided by prenuptial agreement as well. This is especially useful if one spouse gives up their career to become a homemaker or a stay-at-home parent. Be careful not to contract away one spouse’s right to support from the other, however, as a court is unlikely to uphold such a term.
If one partner has children from a prior marriage, a prenuptial agreement can protect their future inheritance. Not only can prenuptial agreements protect children from a prior marriage, but it can also make it clear where assets will go if one spouse passes away, or if some other event occurs, such as the marriage of a child or the sale of a business. Prenuptial agreements are unique to every couple and can include provisions for a wide variety of events.
An exception to the broad range of terms that may be included in a prenuptial agreement is child support. The right to child support belongs to the child, not the parents. No matter what the parties may intend, child support may never be decided in a prenuptial agreement. Because the right to child support belongs to the child, parents cannot contract away their right. A court will never enforce such a term.
In the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement saves time and headaches. Planning ahead can save money during divorce proceedings by giving the court a plan negotiated in advance, thus saving money on lawyers and litigation. It also gives both spouses a valuable sense of certainty throughout their marriage.
If you have any questions about prenuptial agreements, or would like one drafted for you, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Gehling Osborn Law Firm.