If you and your partner are discussing marriage, it’s possible that talk of a prenup will come up sooner than later – if it hasn’t already. Generally speaking, prenuptial agreements aren’t viewed favorably by the masses. When we see them depicted in the media, they’re almost always used as a tool to “cheat” someone out of another person’s wealth in the event of divorce.
While protecting one’s assets and livelihood is the primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement, these agreements don’t – and shouldn’t! – have to be one-sided. In fact, a judge will not enforce any prenup that contains illegal provisions (such as predetermining child custody) or is otherwise unfair to one party, as would be the case if the prenup leaves one spouse destitute.
Perhaps this is cause for a sigh of relief if you’ve been wary about a prenup propositioned to you in your life. Even so, though, the question still looms – should I ever sign a prenup?
A Prenup Is Like a ‘Disaster’ Plan
Many people may feel negatively about prenups because they don’t see them in the correct light. A prenuptial agreement can be compared to a disaster plan for your home: In the event of the unthinkable, what will you do to save what’s most important to you?
When you think about a prenuptial agreement as a disaster plan for divorce, its purpose makes more sense. Instead of spending tons of time and money on mediation and litigation to reach a divorce settlement, a prenuptial agreement can answer a lot of those questions ahead of time.
Keep in mind, however, that there are some questions that a prenuptial agreement can’t answer. The best example – and perhaps the one people fret most about – is child custody and visitation. Under no circumstances will a judge honor a determination on child custody or visitation found in a prenup.
A Prenuptial Agreement Is a Two-Way Street
Prenuptial agreements get a bad rap because they’re seen as signs of distrust on the part of the party who feels stronger about getting one. It’s not uncommon for people to take offense to the notion of signing a prenup, but before reacting, take a step back to consider the big picture.
A prenup – a good prenup – protects both parties. This means that you should listen to what your partner wants to protect in the event of a divorce and then share what you want to protect in that scenario. If you are offered a prenup, hire your own attorney to help you go over it. You can even propose amendments to the agreement that help you protect your interest in things like a future home, spousal support, or other marital property. If you have separate assets or wish to protect investments that earn income, your prenup can help you clarify that these properties are your own and not subject to division.
When You Should Sign a Prenuptial Agreement
The only time you should sign a prenuptial agreement is when you completely understand and agree to every provision. If you have the slightest bit of doubt about the potential consequences or aren’t sure you fully understand your prenup, don’t sign.
Instead, immediately seek your own legal counsel to help you protect your interests. You may be tempted to feel satisfied by explanations offered by your partner or their attorney, but the best course of action is to seek your own representation that will ensure you are protected.
If you are seeking such legal counsel, we at Claery & Hammond, LLP can help. Our experienced attorneys can help anyone with any matter concerning a prenuptial agreement, whether it involves drafting, reviewing, or negotiating one.