A prenuptial agreement, commonly called a prenup, is simply a contract for an engaged couple that outlines the expectations for what will happen to your property, assets, and income during the marriage and in the event of a divorce or death. Given that the future is unpredictable, they are wise to have so that the couple can set expectations early on and there are no surprises in the future. Keep these 10 things in mind when considering whether you want a prenuptial agreement.
(1) Without a prenup you are at the mercy of the DC or Maryland family court.
When you get a divorce from your spouse, generally, your case will be heard in family court in the state of your residence, and that state’s law will apply. So, unless your case is uncontested and there are no disagreements, property rights upon divorce, alimony rights upon divorce, and property rights upon death benefits will likely be fought out in a protracted legal battle. If you want to avoid that get a prenuptial agreement.
(2) You don’t have to be rich to have a prenup.
One of the first things that comes to many people’s minds is that only the rich and famous get prenuptial agreements so that they can protect their assets if the marriage ends. Although that is the norm, prenuptial agreements can be used by individuals of middle class or moderate means. Consider the following scenarios: An entrepreneur who created a new business that may or may not take off, but she wants to maintain possession over all income it yields. A writer who wants to keep all royalties to his book no matter how large or small. A couple who agrees that any family gifts that are given to the future wife shall remain the wife’s and those given to the future husband shall remain the husband’s.
(3) Prenups can set expectations for what happens to pets.
Legally, pets are considered property. Without a prenuptial agreement they will be treated as such if the marriage ends. So, to avoid fights over who gets the family pet a prenuptial agreement can help establish that. For a recent news story about this click here.
(4) Prenups do not expire unless you want them to.
Sometimes we hear about a married couple having a prenuptial agreement, but all the entitlements that a spouse would have had are expired because the couple put those terms in the agreement. For example, they can agree that on a date in the future he wife will no longer be entitled to alimony or part of the husband’s business profits.
(5) It is a myth that the fiancée with less money will have to sign away their entitlement to their fiancée’s assets and property.
Generally, you get what you agree to. So, if you are the future wife and you and your future husband agree that you will not waive your rights to alimony from your wealthy husband, should the marriage ends, then you do not have to. This applies to many other rights and entitlements one would otherwise have under the law as well.
(6) You cannot agree to remove your potential future child support obligation.
Family courts retain jurisdiction to decide matters over child support. This makes practical sense because there are several factors that go into determining a child support obligation that cannot be predetermined.
(7) You cannot provide for who gets custody of your children.
Family courts retain jurisdiction over child custody as well. However, in a prenuptial agreement a couple may express their intentions. Given the many unforeseen variables that may come into the couple’s lives over the years it may not be practical to set up expectations for such an emotional issue as custody over children.
(8) You might have to ratify the agreement after the initial execution.
Prenuptial agreements can make provisions for the amount of retirement that the future spouse will be entitled to, if any, but it the provision will not be ripe for execution until the couple is married. So, this will require that the couple remembers to execute this provision after the wedding.
(9) It is not too late to have an agreement made once you’re married.
A prenuptial agreement is appropriate before marriage. After marriage, provisions for property rights upon divorce, alimony rights upon divorce, and property rights upon death benefits can be established if the couple never obtained a prenuptial agreement. The agreement is called a postnuptial agreement.
(10) It may be wise to include a social media clause.
You can include a social media clause to prevent your spouse from posting information about you that might embarrass you or have some other negative impact. This video explains more.