Premarital (Prenuptial) Agreements & Amendments Legal Forms
Contract between two persons who intend to marry which sets forth their rights how their assets will be distributed in the case of divorce or death.
Prenuptial Agreement FAQ
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Also known colloquially as the “Prenup,” a Prenuptial Agreement is an agreement between two people who intend on getting married. Typically, these agreements deal specifically with the arrangement of property, defining who owns what, as well as the arrangement of debt. Though most Prenuptial Agreements gain their advantage by being made before the wedding itself, there is still a possibility that a couple can agree to similar terms after the wedding, known as a Postnuptial Agreement.
The scope of Prenuptial Agreements can be modest, or it can extend to a wide range of property, from homes to businesses. It may also address what happens in the case of inheritance earned by one spouse, or may establish the fact that one spouse plans on supporting the other financially during their pursuit of education.
Why would anyone want to sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
There are a number of reasons to sign a Prenuptial Agreement, and once you understand the various implications these agreements have, you start to understand why people might want to use them. For example, someone who owns a business and wants to make sure that they don’t have to give up their business in any potential divorce settlement would want to make sure that the business is listed as their property in the Prenuptial Agreement. Typically, most Prenuptial Agreement arrangements relate to this type of property – a large asset or even the future potential for large assets.
Other people have different reasons for signing a Prenuptial Agreement, such as establishing the fact that one spouse will be supporting the other financially while the other spouse gets an education. These types of arrangements have nothing to do with an anticipated divorce and in fact help establish the relationship as it will be, post-nuptials.
What kinds of issues are covered in a Prenuptial Agreement?
As mentioned, most issues covered by a Prenuptial Agreement focus on the distribution of assets and debt. Usually, these are the most prized assets and debt – and for that reason the Prenuptial Agreement will be signed. Assets such as businesses, real estate, and potential future inheritance are some of the most common types of property that will be defined by a Prenuptial Agreement. But these agreements can also be used in order to ensure that the marriage begins a certain way – for example, if one spouse is going to be handling the finances for a while, then that can be put into the Prenuptial Agreement as well. In such a case, divorce proceedings can go very differently from how they would in the absence of a Prenuptial Agreement.
Does the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement preclude future litigation?
No, there is no reason that litigation can be avoided simply because a Prenuptial Agreement exists. However, these agreements can serve to protect against any damages from such litigation, as many judges may be quick to throw out lawsuits that are invalidated by the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement. It’s important to remember that in the United States, you can almost always sue someone – but that is no guarantee that they will sue successfully.
What are the limitations on who can sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
Generally, just about anyone can sign a Prenuptial Agreement. Typically it’s reserved to those who actually plan on getting married soon, but a Prenuptial Agreement can also exist for couples who one day “might” get married. It’s worth noting, however, that these types of agreements are generally rare.
What kind of divorce issues are not settled by a Prenuptial Agreement?
The existence of a Prenuptial Agreement might help to define what property belongs to whom, but it’s also important to remember that not all important divorce issues can be resolved by the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement. Other issues such as child custody and visitation, as well as child support, will be determined in divorce proceedings independent of the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement, though in some cases (such as child support) the Prenuptial Agreement may have a small impact. Ultimately, many of these cases are up to divorce settlement agreements or court arrangements.
What if we forgot to sign the agreement before we got married?
There is always the Postnuptial Agreement, an agreement that still holds up in court and still allows two people in a marriage to define the property they own. However, it can be too late to sign a Postnuptial Agreement if one or both spouses shows intent to divorce, as these kinds of actions could show a desire to manipulate the divorce proceedings before the occur. Otherwise, if both you and your spouse agree to it, you can sign a Postnuptial Agreement at any time during your marriage.
When is the best time to sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
It’s up to each couple. Typically, the Prenuptial Agreement should be signed well in advance of the wedding in order to avoid any complications that should come too soon before a wedding. Also, the topic of signing a Prenuptial Agreement is best brought up sooner rather than later.
When is a Prenuptial Agreement enforceable?
Upon signing, though the enforceability of the Prenuptial Agreement will also depend, of course, on whether or not the couple signing the agreement has married yet. If not, then there is not much to enforce.
What are the requirements for a Prenuptial Agreement to be valid?
Contrary to what you might think, a Prenuptial Agreement is not valid only if the couple gets married – even before they’re married, the contract is still a valid contract. However, without the condition of marriage (as stipulated by the agreement), the contract will also have no bearing on property discussed therein.
When is a Prenuptial Agreement effective?
The Prenuptial Agreement is effective upon the valid signing and when the couple gets married. Before the couple gets married, the contract is still considered valid but is essentially not ready to be enforced; it can then be enforced during divorce proceedings or during the marriage.