It’s February, love is in the air. You are in love. Your partner’s happiness and security are important to you and you want to protect them. If you knew you could avoid unnecessary stress and arguments by planning ahead for life goals, legacy goals, eventualities or even catastrophes, would you do it, right?
A pre-nuptial greement can serve as a relationship builder, not as a romance killer. Love is a powerful and valuable asset in any relationship. Love is most transparent and full of integrity and equity when two people meet as equals in full disclosure of attitudes, assets and intentions. The most common reason couples/families fight is because of finances. A pre-nup is one way to have that difficult conversation which should help you plan for a great marriage but will be there in the event things do not go as planned. Getting it all out on the table up front will help with discussing financial matters down the road. The real benefit of a prenup applies to any relationship: upfront, honest communication.
No matter the motivation a pre-nup is an agreement made prior to the marriage. If you ask me, a good time to draft a pre-nup and the answer is: the sooner the better. I strongly believe that it is an excellent idea to secure a prenuptial agreement so there is no misunderstanding regarding the financial matters. It offers great protection especially if the agreement is well written and thought out.
Pre-nuptials (or pre-nup)
A prenuptial agreement states your wishes for how your marital assets and debts would be handled, defining a Husband and Wife’s responsibility in three areas: divorce, death of a party and financial or other domestic arrangements during the marriage.
Pre-nuptials (or pre-nup) are on the rise. Perhaps it is because today, people who are marrying have more assets – more debts – when they marry. Perhaps this is a second marriage and you have children from a previous relationship and want to ensure things don’t get complicated between yours, mine and ours.
Many couples find it helps to outline some of the things they wish to keep separate and things/items they want to share and how they will share them during marriage. A pre-nup may include a review of assets and debts, who is responsible for them before and after the marriage; how you are going to handle the payment of the household expenses (examples, food, cell phones, car insurance, utilities) and whether you are going to pool money, leave money in separate accounts or some type of variation.
Other things to consider are whether you contemplate paying spousal support and what that means. You may need to consider how to divide things between your children, your spouse’s children and the children you have together (if that is the situation, you should also consider drafting a Will).
Perhaps the best outcome of a prenup is that it gets couples talking about their finances before saying "I do.” Ultimately, a prenup is insurance in case happily-ever-after doesn't happen.
At Van Tassel Law, I advocate "collaborative" agreements, where a couple sits down, each with an attorney, to amicably devise a financial agreement that works for both sides. The emphasis is teamwork, not adversarial.
For more information about Prenuptial Agreements, Asset Planning and Estate Planning, please contact me Laura Van Tassel at (201) 664-8566 to schedule a consultation or visit vantassellaw.com to learn more about me and Alternative Dispute Resolutions.