Fully consider your legal options before you get married
A prenuptial agreement, or "prenup," is simply a contract between two people before they get married, generally used to determine how each spouse's property and debt will be treated, especially in the event of a divorce. Prenups are becoming more common among people of all ages and from all walks of life, but for some, there's still a stigma associated with them.
The reality is that a prenup is a legal tool like any other, and it has advantages and disadvantages. If you're planning on getting married, you should at least consider whether a prenuptial agreement will serve your interests. Here are some pros and cons to consider.
Reasons you might want a prenuptial agreement
- You have children from a previous relationship. Division of property in divorce or inheritance can get complicated when you have children from a previous marriage, especially if you then have more children in your current marriage. A prenup can spell out that your separate property should go to your children; without a prenup, your spouse may be entitled to most of it.
- You own a business or plan to start a business. If you want to keep your business and your marriage separate, a well-worded prenup can ensure that it is treated as separate property.
- You or your spouse has significant debt. In some circumstances, a prenup can shield you from your spouse's creditors and vice versa.
- You want to avoid arguments in the event of a divorce. Of course, no one gets married expecting to get divorced, but no one buys life insurance expecting to die young, either. A prenup can prepare you for the possibility of divorce and settle some of the most contentious issues ahead of time, just in case.
Reasons you might not want a prenuptial agreement
- You're okay with letting your marriage be governed by state law. Without a prenup, the laws of the state where you get married and reside govern your marriage and your potential divorce. If you're getting married in Illinois, plan to live in Illinois, and are okay with letting Illinois state law determine your property division and spousal support, you may not need a prenup.
- You can't predict the future and don't want to be locked in. For example, if you aren't sure that you and your spouse will continue to contribute to the relationship in the same way, you may not want to be locked in by a prenuptial agreement. On the other hand, that uncertainty may be precisely why you want a prenup, and you can always change it later via a postnuptial agreement.
- You don't believe in prenups. Some people may not want a prenuptial agreement because they think it undermines the trust or romance of the relationship, or for religious or moral reasons. That is entirely your choice.
It's worth your time to discuss your options with an experienced family law attorney
While prenups aren't for everyone, one thing that's always true is that a poorly written prenup can do more harm than good. If you decide to get a prenuptial agreement, you need a lawyer to ensure it is drafted properly, protects your interests, and complies with state law. If you and your future spouse don't have legal representation, the prenup's validity may be called into question — which defeats the whole purpose of settling future arguments before they happen.
In short, even if you aren't sure whether you want a prenup, it's worth talking to an attorney about your options. If you are moving toward marriage, schedule your consultation with the experienced divorce and family law attorneys at Courtney Clark Law, P.C. today.