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At Schlegel Law Group, we have been working through the family legal system for over 20 years. We know the ins and outs of important family law issues, including marital agreements like the prenuptial. If you are about to get married, it is in your best interests to settle certain issues on paper in a prenuptial agreement to protect your and your spouse’s rights. Our firm is dedicated to our clients’ success, and we will accurately represent your interests as we represent you in the negotiation room.
What Can a Prenuptial Agreement Do?
Prenuptial agreements, or "premarital agreements,” are legal contracts between prospective spouses that establish how certain marital issues like alimony and property division may be treated during and after a marriage. Prenups may be particularly useful for individuals who:
- own assets prior to the marriage that they want to protect from division in the event of divorce;
- have children from a previous relationship and want to protect their future inheritance;
- have business interests they would like to keep separate from their spouse.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Assets
For example, if you are a medical professional with important assets you wish to keep separate, a prenuptial agreement can do that.
With that in mind, prenups can address a number of important things, such as:
- each spouse's authority to manage or control property during the marriage;
- how each spouse’s retirement plans or pensions will be handled or divided;
- what happens to the proceeds of any life insurance policies;
- whether either spouse is required to write a will to carry out the terms of the agreement;
- whether one spouse will pay the other alimony during a divorce, and if so, how much and for how long;
- how the couple will divide their property in the event of a divorce or death; and
- which state's laws will be used to interpret the agreement, if necessary.
Note that a prenuptial agreement cannot make any determinations about child custody or child support. These two things are based on the child’s needs and best interests so cannot be decided before the child is born.
Enforcing a Prenup
A prenup becomes enforceable once the parties marry. Note that to enforce a prenup, the agreement must be legally valid. This means it must be in writing and signed by both spouses. A prenuptial agreement won't be enforceable if:
- a spouse didn't sign the agreement voluntarily;
- the agreement was signed due to fraud, duress, or coercion; or
- the agreement was “unconscionable” when the couple signed it (one spouse wasn’t given fair or reasonable disclosure of the other spouse’s financial circumstances).
Regarding the last point, unless one spouse waives their right to receive a fair disclosure of the other's financial circumstances, each spouse must disclose their assets and debts to the other while they draft their prenup. An attorney can help at this stage to ensure all the appropriate information is provided and, on the flip side, that you are being informed of all the necessary financial information in your best interests as a spouse.
To amend or cancel a prenuptial agreement, both spouses must put the changes in writing and sign it.
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