What are prenuptial agreements?

In 21st Century America, approximately 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. It’s wise to think of a prenuptial agreement as a way to make divorce easier should it ever happen rather than evidence that your spouse looks forward to divorcing you at some point in the marriage. Prenuptial agreements are also known as “antenuptial agreements” and “premarital agreements.” A prenuptial agreement essentially is a document signed by a couple, before marriage, indicating how assets, debts, and other financial liabilities will be divided between spouses if they divorce; it also can specify how assets and financial liabilities will be handled upon the death of a spouse. Sometimes prenups memorialize the standards of the marriage itself. For example, a couple may consent to a provision permitting one spouse to sue if the other gains more than 15 pounds during the marriage. Some courts render such a provision ludicrous and void. In any event, the prenuptial agreement is effective upon marriage.

Why do couples have prenuptial agreements?

There are several reasons why couples sign a prenuptial agreement. Some couples agree to prenups for the sole purpose of excluding personal property and property acquired before the marriage from becoming marital property and thus the subject of litigation. Other couples have prenups for the purpose of estate planning. A couple might include a provision in the prenuptial that states, “John will maintain life insurance for the benefit of Jane.” An estate planner would have to consider this provision before proceeding with any estate plan. Unrelated to estate planning are situations where one spouse embarks upon a second marriage but has children from the first marriage. In such a situation, a couple might agree that the childless spouse cannot meddle with assets reserved for the children of his first marriage. The reasons vary and for whatever reason you decide that you need a prenuptial agreement, JRQ & Associates can help you draft one.

How prenuptial agreements work

A court’s assessment of the effects of any prenuptial agreement is state specific. However, generally, prenups require that both parties disclose all of their financial assets. Both parties must voluntarily enter into the prenuptial agreement. The agreement has to be void of careless errors. It also cannot include nonsensical provisions—for example, a provision barring one spouse from receiving child support for biological children of both, in the event of divorce. Finally, each partner should have independent counsel present when signing the agreement. Some states require it. The attorneys at JRQ & Associates are more than willing to function as independent counsel in the signing of your prenuptial agreement.

Who to consult if you are considering creating a prenuptial agreement

Consult with the attorneys at JRQ & Associates. Call (312) 561-5063 regarding your prenuptial agreement concerns. Minimize the chance of that you will have to go through extensive litigation because someone botched your prenuptial agreement.

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