Marriage is a wonderful institution, but in today’s world, even those who were head-over-heels for each other on their wedding day are statistically more likely than not to find themselves on opposing sides of the mediation table. A prenuptial agreement is much like a homeowners’ insurance policy – you don’t plan on something bad happening to your home when you purchase the insurance, but you still buy it “just in case.” The same goes for a prenuptial agreement – you don’t plan on getting a divorce, but you still execute one “just in case” (although statistically you are more likely to get a divorce than to make a claim against your homeowners’ insurance policy).
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between two people that deals with the financial consequences of their marriage ending. All marrying couples have a “prenuptial agreement” – it is known as “divorce law” – which may or may not put them in an equitable position. To assure the right (which depends on each partner’s definition of “right”) most people prefer to take control of their lives, rather than leave it in the hands of the government. Therefore, these couples choose to execute a “prenup.”
At DOROT & BENSIMON PL our attorneys assist you and your fiancé in determining an appropriate alternative in lieu of the government’s opinion on what is “right.” Our attorneys are experienced at providing reasonable alternatives and our delicate approach to the matter assures that these uncomfortable discussions don’t make you call off the wedding.
Of course, a prenuptial agreement is not for everyone, and in many circumstances does not benefit the couple. Accordingly, below is a list of circumstances in which a prenuptial agreement is strongly recommended.
- Unequal Wealth. A prenuptial agreement is appropriate when one spouse enters the marriage with greater wealth. Just as a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect a spouse who is well off, a prenuptial agreement can also be used to ensure that the partner who is weaker financially is protected as well – again, the prenuptial agreement will specifically address these issues based on YOUR desires.
- Unequal Income. A prenuptial agreement is appropriate when one spouse enters a marriage with a higher income generation capacity – the agreement can be used in many states to limit the amount of alimony that is payable.
- Remarriage. When a person remarries, the legal and financial concerns are often very different than in the first marriage. Children from a previous marriage, lingering spousal support obligations, and ownership of significant assets are all a concern. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that when a spouse passes away, the assets are distributed according to that spouse’s wishes, and that neither the first family, nor any subsequent or new family is cut off.
- High Debt. When marrying someone with a significant debt load, you don’t want to be responsible for these debts in the case of marriage dissolution. A prenuptial agreement can help ensure that this does not happen.
- Business Interests. Unless a prenuptial agreement is in place, in the event of marriage dissolution, your spouse could end up owning a share of your business. Your business partners may not want this to happen. A prenuptial agreement can specifically address such an issue to protect you and your business partners.
- Protecting Estate Planning. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that your estate plan works, and, for instance, ensure that a specific heirloom remains in your family. Quite frequently the estate planning documents of a deceased spouse are lost, ineffective, or lacking completely. By specifically addressing limitations on spousal rights at death in a prenuptial agreement, you are assured that a second-level safeguard is in place.
- Foregoing a Career. Quitting your job to raise the children may negatively impact a spouse’s income and wealth. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that the financial burden of raising the children is shared fairly by both partners in the event of marriage dissolution.