Prenuptial Agreements: A Roadmap for Marriage
The phrase “prenuptial agreement” is often understood to be a marriage killjoy. For many, it represents a distrust between future spouses and ignites heated familial debates about the most unromantic thing of all – money. I see the prenuptial agreement as something entirely more positive. These agreements, and the discussions leading up to them, actually lay out a road map for marriage.
It may surprise you that, as a family law attorney, I am pro-marriage, pro-love, and pro-family. I do not necessarily want anyone to get a divorce, even though divorces make up a large part of my legal practice. This is why I enjoy focusing parts of my practice on counseling clients about how to approach their marriage in a practical way. A marriage, after all, is just like a business partnership. Savvy business owners understand the importance of entering into partnership agreements to lay out the terms of a productive and profitable relationship. Marriage is no different.
Love is what starts couples down the path towards marriage, but it is not always enough to keep them there. I recommend prenuptial (also known as premarital) agreements to couples who want to do everything in their power to enter into a healthy and lasting marriage.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
It’s a document that memorializes discussions about assets acquired prior to the marriage, expectations and roles within the marriage and how to handle changes to assets during the marriage.
Some examples of challenges prenuptial agreements can address are: the house you owned prior to the marriage may be sold and the proceeds put into a family residence. What happens to those assets? One spouse may want to step out of the workforce to raise a child at home for a few years. That spouse will, undoubtedly, miss out on years of experience and opportunities to advance in the profession. How would that spouse be compensated financially in the event of a divorce for the years they did not spend working?
Prenuptial agreements are becoming much more popular. People are marrying later in life, having had time to work and acquire their own homes or retirement assets. If this is a second marriage, a parent may want to protect the child from their first marriage’s rights of inheritance. A prenup can address financial assets, alimony, business interests and rights of inheritance.
Prenups are not the answer to every challenge a marriage may encounter. What they cannot do, for example, is divest the court’s authority to determine child custody and child support of children born during the marriage.
For couples considering marriage, asking an attorney to draw up a prenuptial agreement is a great idea. If done right, it should be negotiated fairly and with full disclosure. Each side should have their own independent counsel and the agreement must be entered into freely and voluntarily. The prenup should be executed as part of the wedding planning process, but early enough to avoid the stress of negotiating days before the ceremony. If you and your partner are considering getting married, creating the right prenup is the best way to further strengthen your partnership and contribute to the health and longevity of your marriage.
If you need assistance preparing a prenuptial agreement, please contact the Law Office of Laurie M. Wasserman LLC at 410-842-1070 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We practice in jurisdictions throughout the State of Maryland.