What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a written document outlining the terms between two betrothed parties. Essentially, the prenuptial agreement establishes parameters regarding assets should the marriage end in divorce. The attorneys at Eveland & Foster prepare both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for clients seeking to marry or already married, whether it is their first or fourth marriage. Preparing a prenup now prevents unnecessary heartache and turbulence later.
Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best
No one gets married expecting to get divorced, but statistics unfortunately indicate that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, the parties may delve into a contested dispute about all major assets, including financial accounts, pensions, personal property, furniture, vehicles and the home. Even gifts, which are considered separate from marital property under the law, may come into play during divorce proceedings. If one partner is wealthy, owns a business, or has children from a previous marriage, they may want to shield assets or items they wish to bequeath to relatives in the event of marriage dissolution. A prenuptial agreement is a logical solution to settling property division prior to marriage.
Sadly, prenuptial agreements are mired with negative stigma. Some people feel it is an insult to even broach the discussion, let alone ask their partner to sign an agreement. There is no reason for negative misconceptions to stop you from discussing the subject with your partner. Discussing the subject of finances, property, and the worst-case scenario of divorce allows parties to speak openly about their wishes, interests, and mutual understandings.
Drafting the Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement
When drafting a prenup, the parties make a list of all assets and liabilities, copies of existing wills, trust accounts, gifts, etc. If one party owns a business, it is also wise to provide copies of operating or partnership agreements in preparation of the prenup. Because these agreements concern the interests of two parties, it is usually suggested that each party hire counsel for the drafting process. Our firm can assist couples in obtaining advice from another attorney for the other party.
Couples who are already married also have the option of drafting postnuptial agreements. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement in that the couple makes recitals about the joint property and sole property. However, a judge is much more likely to scrutinize a postnuptial agreement, as the longer a couple waits, the more likely finances, assets, and property are commingled.
On that note, while you can choose to draft your own agreement, understand that a judge is much more likely to scrutinize an agreement that was not drafted with advice from opposing counsel for both parties. This is because otherwise, it may appear that terms were included to the benefit of one party and detriment of another, or that coercion or undue influence factored into agreement terms. In any event, if you have children from a previous marriage or relationship, a trust fund, your income is disparate from your partner’s or you simply wish to have security regarding your individual assets, we strongly advise you consider drafting a prenuptial agreement.
Contact Our Attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC
If you are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and want to learn more about the process, call our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC. We are available to discuss your needs and explain the property and asset allocation process.
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