Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

Many people while blissfully happy when contemplating marriage also feel
somewhat anxious and stressed out. There are trepidations; they ask themselves, “is
this the right thing to do? Will the marriage work? Am I making a mistake?” Some of
the anxiety, stress, and fear can be eliminated by a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage that defines
how assets will be distributed in the event of a divorce and where there is a disparity of
income, what will be paid as maintenance (a/k/a alimony). The key advantage to a
prenuptial agreement is that it can create its own definition of marital property. New
York Law defines marital property as all property acquired by either spouse during the
course of a marriage. While there are exceptions, most property acquired is marital. Of
primary importance is the fact that it does not matter how the marital property is
acquired (with some exceptions) or by whom.

Since the division of assets is not based upon who actually “acquires” them
during the marriage, it is particularly important for those who own an interest in a
business to have a plan prior to the marriage. A business or the increase in value of a
business can be included as marital property in the event of a divorce, even if one
spouse played no role in the day-to-day operations of the company. A prenuptial
agreement can protect those business interests by allowing the spouse most involved in
the running of the business to maintain ownership should the marriage ultimately fail.

In the past, prenuptial agreements were thought of as being only for the very
wealthy, those with substantial assets going into a marriage; however, legal and
financial experts agree prenuptial agreements are smart financial planning for almost
every couple.1
Divorces can run many thousands of dollars and can be ongoing for

In addition to a division of marital assets, prenuptial agreements can also provide
a plan regarding spousal maintenance (also called spousal support or alimony).
Providing for spousal support in a prenuptial agreement allows one spouse the freedom
to leave the workforce to care for the home or any children by knowing he or she will
still have the necessary support to care for himself or herself even if the marriage is
terminated by divorce. The payor spouse also benefits by knowing what his/her
obligation for maintenance is in advance. And certainly, an important consideration for
it is sometimes done by formula so that length of the marriage can be an important
consideration.both parties is participation in the planning. Many factors can go into the planning and

1Why You Should Get a Prenup Even If You’re Young and Broke – By Erin Lowry —


The idea of a prenuptial agreement can seem pessimistic, even ghoulish to
some people; after all, they are marrying for love. However, many people believe that
they really don’t need automobile insurance either because they are very careful
drivers. Everyone who gets married also thinks they were very careful in choosing a
spouse, but in both instances, driving and picking a spouse, it’s a proven fact that
accidents happen. Fifty percent of first marriages fail.2
Of course, two-thirds of second
marriages fail and almost three-quarters of third marriages fail.3
You could compare
the wedding pictures of 10 different couples and couldn’t predict by simply looking at
them which of those couples will be getting divorced. Yet, statistically speaking, 5 of
the10 couples will eventually be divorcing. None of those 10 couples thought it would
be them!

A prenuptial agreement can benefit both parties involved by clearly defining how
property will be split up based upon what the couple believes is fair and reasonable at a
time when they are not angry with each other and in lieu of what a judge, a stranger in a
black robe, might decide if the parties get divorced. A prenuptial agreement allows
couples to take the situation into their own hands and alleviate some of the issues that
can come up when a divorce is commenced. It is also drafted at a time when both
parties can be very fair with each other. Again, while no one expects to get divorced, a
prenuptial agreement can be a valuable precautionary tool and shows responsibility and
practicality when entering a marriage. It is an insurance policy without yearly premiums.

Prenuptial agreements can also potentially save thousands of dollars in legal
fees, as many divorces become so contentious that the parties lose sight of the
economic issues and incur far greater fees than they would otherwise incur with a
prenuptial agreement.

While prenuptial agreements are valuable, they must be done correctly and
according to state law in order to ensure their validity. Each spouse should consult an
experienced family law attorney individually in order to fully understand the potential
options and rights a prenuptial agreement provides.

2What Is the Divorce Rate, Really by Bella DePaulo Ph.D. —

3Why Do Second Marriages Fail – Wevorce Admin

Ronald A. Phillips