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What Makes a Good Prenuptial Agreement

09th August 2011
By damlawny in Divorce
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Many people assume that prenuptial agreements are only for couples who are extremely successful or have a great deal of money. While it is true that agreements are important for those people, they are also beneficial for your average couple. A prenuptial agreement arranges for a variety of situations well in advance, including financial matters, concerns surrounding any children produced by the relationship, and property division in the event of divorce or death. If there is an agreement already in place, it is considered first and foremost, instead of state, probate, and family laws that could dictate what happens in the lives of both individuals in ways that neither anticipated. A good prenuptial agreement will benefit both people involved in the marriage in a variety of ways.

Discussing the Contents of the Agreement
The initial talk about creating a prenuptial agreement may just be the most important part of the process. Many people have a negative knee-jerk reaction when the topic of prenuptial agreements comes up. They may have heard that one spouse is always left without anything or that having one at all can damage the marriage because of the expectation of failure. A prenuptial agreement is simply a joint record of the wishes of both people who are involved in the relationship. It is essential to sit down and have a long discussion about the agreement and how it will not be created to harm either partner.

Be Thorough
Go through every part of your and your future spouse’s lives and create areas in the agreement for anything that is important. This includes your finances, debt, property, investments, and how spousal support would be arranged in case of divorce. Also take into account any children that either partner already has or that you might have. Consider outlining custody arrangements not only for children, but also for family pets, and decide whether one partner will receive the house or if it will be sold and the proceeds divided.

Involve Attorneys
It is important to consult with lawyers, obtaining separate counsel for each individual to look out for the interests of each. Having lawyers handle the messiest parts of the agreement can also minimize the emotional reactions and hurt feelings that sometimes surface when prenuptial agreements are being drawn up.

Keep the Agreement Updated
Make sure that you and your spouse review the prenuptial agreement every few years. Concerns and property change, sometimes very quickly. Be sure that your agreement stays current, so that it will still apply if something happens. Even if you provided for children and future financial topics in the original agreement, situations change.

Make Sure it Will Stand Up in Court
It is possible for a prenuptial agreement to be overturned by a judge. The fairer the agreement is, the less likely this is to happen, though. The documents can say whatever you want them to say, but if a judge finds that the agreement is profoundly unequal, it will be thrown out. Begin creating the agreement plenty of time before the wedding – many months, ideally. If you try to force your spouse to sign an agreement right before the wedding with an ultimatum of canceling it, the document can be rendered void because the signature was acquired under duress. Be honest about your assets and don’t attempt to hide anything. Also, don’t attempt to write in that your spouse will be left without anything in certain circumstances. Not only can this be viewed as a threat, a court will not uphold such a one-sided benefit.

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