Marriage is a significant commitment and likely one that you enter willingly and gladly. However, no one can know what the future holds, and with a divorce rate around 50%, the odds aren’t exactly high for the long haul. Therefore, it can be a wise decision to protect existing assets before getting married with a prenuptial agreement. An agreement stating individual property and finances does not negate the integrity or the fortitude of a relationship, it only stipulates that neither party knows what the future holds, and it only offers a way of protecting everyone in case the worst should happen. While the prospect of foresight can lead to trepidation for some, it is important to understand when a prenup should be used.
The main reason to sign a prenup is to protect premarital assets and to ensure that items, money, and property that is yours now stays yours in the future, regardless of what happens with the marriage. For instance, if you have a priceless family heirloom, or you inherited your grandfather’s lake cabin, or you have a financial portfolio, you can protect those items in a prenup. If you do not sign a prenup, then you risk those items becoming comingled. In other words, if you are married for ten plus years, it becomes challenging to itemize what assets were yours prior to marriage, which means you are risking losing some things during possible divorce proceedings.
If you do not have many significant assets, then it may be enough to have separate accounts. In most states separate accounts legally define separate assets, meaning that even in a divorce, these accounts will remain intact. Also, the same can be said of property. If you are the only person on a deed, then the property is yours by law. However, despite the expectations, a prenup still defines ownership legally and likely definitively.
Pre May be Better Than Post
It is true that a prenuptial agreement is not the only type of agreement you can sign defining your assets. You can sign a postnuptial agreement, which is signed after you are married. However, some states, like California, do not view these agreements as legally valid, meaning that it will not hold up in court.
There is a stigma around prenuptial agreements, which leads to people feeling like their relationship is not valid if they sign. However, that is not the purpose of the contract. The agreement is meant to protect both parties. Signing a prenup implies that in the unfortunate event that your relationship ends you both leave the marriage with your original assets. Contact a family lawyer to discuss prenuptial agreements and to find out if you need one.