A premarital agreement (also called a prenuptial agreement or “prenup”) is a legal document that addresses various scenarios relating to finances, assets, and personal belongings before a couple’s marriage. These scenarios are handled before the wedding day to protect each spouse’s rights in case of divorce or death. Premarital agreements help resolve conflicts relating to marital assets, finances, and other situations before they happen. Premarital agreements must be approached with care to create a favorable outcome for both potential spouses without impacting the future of their relationship. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when drafting a premarital agreement.
Do: Open lines of communication
One primary benefit of a premarital agreement is allowing couples to openly discuss their financial, personal, and business situations before the wedding day. Although some topics may not be easy to discuss, creating a premarital agreement with an open mind will ensure you make a plan for a great marriage.
Do: Ensure the prenup is legally binding
There is no use in creating a premarital agreement if it is not enforceable in court. The premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by you and your partner to be legally binding. It must be created voluntarily, without threat or coercion. For example, a premarital agreement may not be enforceable if the spouse was forced to sign the agreement on the way to the wedding ceremony under the threat of calling off the wedding.
Do: Think about estate planning
While premarital agreements mitigate disputes during divorce proceedings, these agreements are also beneficial in planning for a spouse’s unexpected death. A premarital agreement may include the amount of inheritance or assets the spouse may receive after their partner passes away. In some cases, a spouse may give up certain rights, such as surviving spousal rights, to benefit children from a previous relationship.
Do: Discuss financial responsibilities
Premarital agreements should include how the couple will handle financial situations that may arise during the marriage. The couple may wish to specify how to pay off a partner’s student loans or business debts. They may also agree on financial responsibilities such as who will pay bills, file tax returns, and provide health insurance.
Don’t: Focus on divorce
While premarital arrangements make property division more efficient in the event of a divorce, no one wants to think they’ll get a divorce before the marriage takes place. Think of a premarital agreement as a way to establish a financial plan rather than as a plan for divorce.
Don’t: Talk about child support or custody
Custody or child support plans in premarital arrangements are not enforceable in court. In some cases, these plans make the entire premarital agreement invalid. There is separate documentation during a divorce that arranges for child custody and child support. If you want to make arrangements for child support and custody before getting married, it is best to craft a separate document specifically for those plans rather than include them in a premarital agreement.
Don’t: Include personal preferences
Premarital agreements focus on a couple’s financial situation, assets, and property in a marriage. Premarital agreements are not a wish list of all the everyday responsibilities a spouse would like the other to take on, such as dictating who will fold the laundry or take out the trash.
Don’t: Hide assets
If you’re not truthful about the current state of your finances or assets, the entire premarital agreement may be invalid. It is vital to be fully transparent when drafting a premarital agreement, disclosing all known assets, debts, and finances with a partner.
Premarital Agreements in Lake County, FL
It is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney like Remsen Family Law to help create a premarital agreement. Contact our office at 352-243-1247 to discuss drafting a premarital agreement.