When you get married, you will likely expect this to be the beginning of a life-long partnership. Unfortunately, there is no escaping the reality that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. While you may not want to dwell on the idea that your marriage may break down, planning for that possibility can help you protect yourself in the event divorce ever enters the picture.
A prenuptial agreement offers protection and security, as it will determine how certain legal and financial issues will be handled if your marriage ends or in the event you die while you are still married. Even if you only have a pension or retirement plan when you are about to marry, ask yourself whether you want to give away a portion of your retirement plan if you divorce without a prenuptial agreement? If your answer is no, then a prenuptial agreement is a good idea.
At Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd., we are proponents of prenuptial agreements. We have many years of experience in drafting and negotiating a prenuptial agreement that will withstand litigation and provide the protections you need.
What Can a Prenuptial Agreement Address?
A prenuptial agreement will typically include decisions about issues related to a couple’s property and finances. It usually will decide how assets and debts will be divided if the marriage ends, including through divorce, legal separation, or the death of a spouse.
Couples may also decide whether to eliminate or waive any spousal maintenance (alimony) one party would pay to the other in the case of divorce or legal separation. A prenuptial agreement can specify the circumstances in which maintenance will or will not be paid by one party to the other party, the amount of the payments, and the duration.
In addition to these issues, a prenuptial agreement can specify the court where a divorce case will be heard, and it can include any other decisions the parties wish to make that are not against the law or in violation of public policy. However, it cannot include decisions about child custody or child support. The court will address these matters at the time of a divorce or legal separation, and decisions will be made based on what is in children’s best interests rather than any agreements parents had previously made.
Reasons For a Prenuptial Agreement
While prenuptial agreements are often thought of as a legal tool for wealthy couples or celebrities, they can be beneficial for people from all lifestyles. Some of the benefits a prenuptial agreement can provide include:
- Reducing the costs and complexity of a divorce case. By making decisions ahead of time, you can minimize disputes during your divorce and avoid the fees and expenses that would be required to litigate the case in court.
- Avoiding financial uncertainty. If you are concerned about how financial matters will be handled during a potential divorce, you can address these issues ahead of time. You may decide who will retain ownership of certain assets, who will be responsible for debts, and whether one of you will pay financial support to the other.
- Protecting a business or professional practice. If you or your spouse own a business, either together or separately, you can decide what will happen to the business in the case of divorce. This can help you make sure your business will be able to continue operating, no matter what happens during your marriage or divorce.
- Providing financial resources for children. If either spouse has children from a previous marriage or relationship, they may be concerned about the ownership of assets that they had planned to set aside for these children. A prenuptial agreement can address these matters and ensure that children will receive the intended resources.
- Preparing for success during your marriage. By communicating with your partner about financial matters before getting married, you can have a better understanding of what you own and how the two of you can work together to meet your family’s needs in the years ahead.
- Preservation of separate property and debt. With a prenuptial agreement, you can ensure that the assets that you came into the marriage and any after-acquired assets remain your separate property. Likewise, you can provide that your spouse’s debt remains his or her debt.
- Preserving your estate plan. A prenuptial agreement can limit your spouse’s right to inherit from your estate and provide other estate planning mechanisms that you would not have without a prenuptial agreement.
No matter your age or the amount of income you earn, a prenuptial agreement can provide you with invaluable legal protection and help you avoid uncertainty about your future. The attorneys of Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd. can help. To find out more information about prenuptial agreements, contact our office at 312-341-0900 or email us on our website.