Premarital agreements (also called prenuptial agreements or "prenups") are a common legal step taken before marriage. A prenup establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. So while no one is thinking about a divorce when they get married, about one half of all marriages in America end up in divorce proceedings. So it's often prudent to at least consider a prenuptial agreement. Prenups are often used to protect the assets of wealthy spouses but also can protect family businesses and serve other important functions. Learn about your state's legal requirements for a prenuptial agreement and whether it's right for you.
Why Use a Prenuptial Agreement?
There are several reasons why one party (or even both parties) may want to sign a valid prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. Generally, prenups protect assets that may otherwise be subject to marital property laws. Specifically, these documents may be used to:
The Pros and Cons of Prenuptial Agreements
Entering into a prenuptial agreement should never be taken lightly, particularly since the very mention of a prenup suggests the possibility that the marriage may end at some point. Discussion of a prenuptial agreement also can create stress in a relationship. Therefore, deciding whether to implement certain financial conditions and designations of separate property while also planning nuptials is a personal decision. It helps to understand the pros and cons of signing such an agreement.
What Makes a Prenuptial Agreement Invalid?
A prenuptial agreement may be considered invalid under a number of different conditions and scenarios. First of all, a prenup must be written and signed by both parties and properly executed. Beyond that, a prenup that was signed under duress or not even read prior to signing (as part of a package of documents requesting signatures, for instance), then it may not be considered valid. Other reasons a state may not recognize a prenuptial agreement include lack of independent counsel (for each spouse), false information, and unconscionability.