A Prenuptial Agreement is an agreement between two individuals who intend to marry. The Agreement can limit many things or only a few things. The content of the Agreement depends on what the parties (potential Husband and potential Wife) desire to address. Some of the reasons that engaged couples prepare and sign Prenuptial Agreements are the following.
• The protection of existing assets.
• Avoid paying spousal support, temporary alimony, and alimony.
• The protection of business interests, particularly family businesses.
• The protection of assets that were received as a result of a gift or inheritance or from a prior relationship.
• Estate planning.
Should I Have a Prenuptial Agreement
In many cases, when people become engaged, their financial positions are very different. Their positions can change over time. Sometimes the person who had the lower-income and fewer assets become very successful, earn a much greater income than their spouse, and/or have accumulated (either by work, an inheritance, family gifts, etc.) significant assets which have a much higher value than the other party’s assets.
Do I Need A Prenuptial Agreement
Prenuptial Agreements are more common in second marriages, or marriages between older people who have children and the parties would like to protect their children’s inheritances.
If you are considering a Prenuptial Agreement, you should consult with an experienced Family Law attorney. The attorney will then advise you as to your options. There are, however, some things that cannot be governed or limited by a Prenuptial Agreement. The two main areas which cannot be governed or limited by a Prenuptial Agreement are custody of children and support for children. These are independent rights and cannot be limited by negotiation or a written agreement. Some people are interested only in making certain that they will not have to pay spousal support or alimony. Others want to protect their interest in a family business or a business which they have owned before the marriage.
Additional Reasons For Having A Prenuptial Agreement
Other people would like to protect the assets which they have at the time they get married and they can also protect the increase in value of the assets which they had at the time they got married. Each party should have their own attorney to review the Agreement and to advise them of their rights/options. It is a good idea to ask your attorney what would happen if there is no Prenuptial Agreement. There are some protections built into Pennsylvania Law, even if there is no Prenuptial Agreement. Specifically, assets which you own before you get married or which were gifted to you by someone other than your spouse, or inherited, provided the asset is kept in your own name, are not marital property; however, a spouse has an interest in the increase in value of these assets.
There is one absolute requirement for a valid Prenuptial Agreement and that is each spouse must disclose the value of their assets and their incomes. Failure to disclose or to omit something in a disclosure statement can cause a Prenuptial Agreement to be invalidated.
If you are considering preparing a Prenuptial Agreement, you should begin discussing your intentions with an attorney and ask the attorney to prepare a draft of the Agreement at least six months before the planned wedding. If you are wondering or debating whether you need a Prenuptial Agreement, you should consult with one of our Family Law attorneys. As with other legal documents, you should never attempt to prepare one on your own from someone else’s Agreement or a form you have retrieved from the Internet.