What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements inject a dose of unromantic reality into what would otherwise be a time of optimism and joy. They require individuals that have just decided to commit their lives to one another to contemplate two topics that are likely the furthest from their minds — divorce and death. As much of a party killer as these subjects may be, it is undeniable that in every marriage the parties will have to deal with at least one of these issues. Accordingly, before getting married, it is important to consider whether a prenuptial agreement might prove beneficial.
While most people generally recognize that legal consequences attend the act of marriage, very few appreciate or understand the significant rights and obligations that arise. Consequently, the majority of husbands and wives learn what the law provides with respect to important topics such as separate property, equitable division and spousal support during their own divorce, after it is too late to do anything meaningful about it.
However, state law, through the recognition of prenuptial agreements, allows interested parties to address these topics in a contract before tying the knot. Much like the law allows an individual to circumvent intestacy by making a will, or to avoid probate by drafting a trust, prenuptial agreements allow prospective newlyweds to, within certain limitations, fashion a set of rules, different than those set forth in the divorce statutes, to govern their rights in the event of the termination of the marriage by divorce or death.
For no other reason than to understand your legal rights and obligations, it would be prudent to sit down with a family law attorney prior to getting married. If you have interests to protect, the investment in a legal consultation may prove invaluable. Even if a prenuptial agreement is not the right tool for you, a competent family law attorney can suggest other strategies within the framework of existing law to help you achieve your goals.