Getting engaged to your significant other can be one of the most exciting times of your life. The thought of spending the rest of your life with the person of your dreams can put to rest lots of doubts about the future and make you feel secure in how your life will turn out. Instead, you focus on things like having kids, developing your career path, and buying and owning a home of your own.
Unfortunately, according to the New York Times, about one-third of marriages that happened in the nineties will end in a divorce. Of course, this is not something that people plan on when they get engaged, but that does not make it any less of a reality. While it might feel like betraying the feeling that you and your fiancé share for each other, preparing for the possibility of a future divorce can be in not only your best interests, but also in your future spouse’s.
A prenuptial agreement is possibly the best way to make sure that, should you and your future spouse ever decide to separate and officially split up, everything will go smoothly and with a minimal amount of stress. Contrary to popular belief, prenuptial agreements have numerous benefits, and can actually serve to strengthen a marriage even before it gets under way.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between you and your future spouse. It becomes effective upon a valid marriage, and details how things are to happen, should the marriage end in a divorce. One of the things most often included in a prenuptial agreement is what property each spouse is bringing into the marriage. By defining that property as separate property, it will not be split in a divorce, and ensures that the spouse keeps it if the marriage ends. However, numerous other issues can be handled in a prenuptial agreement, such as alimony arrangements and rights to sell certain pieces of property in case of a divorce.
To prevent the possibility of fraud, the law requires that prenuptials be in writing and signed by both you and your future spouse. While they can be modified after the marriage, any modification to a prenuptial agreement also has to be in writing.
Prenuptial Agreements Protect Your Property
The most widely used aspect of a prenuptial agreement is to protect the property that you are bringing into a marriage. In a prenup, you can list the things that you own before the marriage, and state that they are to be considered separate property throughout the marriage. This means that they will not turn into marital property, which would allow them to be split in the event of a divorce.
Prenuptials Control Future Decisions
Another benefit of creating a prenuptial agreement before getting married to your fiancé is settling important decisions before the stress and emotional strain of a potential divorce becomes a factor. Divorces are one of the most stressful times that you can ever go through, and when emotions run high – especially negative ones – it can be difficult to make decisions that make sense in the grand scheme of things. Instead, it proves all too easy to make vindictive choices that hurt everyone involved out of anger.
Because prenuptial agreements deal with many of the issues that come up during a divorce proceeding, and bind you and your future spouse to those decisions in the agreement, it prevents either of you from making a rash decision in the heat of the moment.
Prenuptial Agreements Control How Property Goes to Your Children
While the most commonly-thought of aspect of a prenuptial agreement is that it protects the property that you bring into the marriage, an often-overlooked result of this is that it can help guide your own property into your children’s hands in the years after a divorce.
After a divorce, ex-spouses often start new families, creating complex family dynamics. If you do not protect your personal property from being split in a divorce, some of it can find its way into your ex-spouse’s hands and, from there, into his or her new family. This can be especially frustrating, following a divorce. Having a prenuptial agreement in place to protect the property you brought into a marriage prevents this from happening.
Prenuptials Eliminate Much of the Cost of a Divorce
Divorces can be expensive. The more decisions have to be litigated, and the more contentious these issues are, the more a divorce can cost.
By having a prenuptial agreement in place before the marriage gets underway, you can avoid that cost because the prenup answers many of the questions that have to be resolved over the course of the divorce proceeding. By having so many issues resolved in a binding fashion by the agreement, there is less to litigate over, greatly simplifying any potential divorce.
Prenuptials Create Certainty
Finally, prenuptial agreements can actually strengthen a marriage by giving both you and your spouse the ability to predict how a divorce would pan out, rather than have to worry about the divorce court would rule.
While divorce courts have rules and tendencies, the reality is that every marriage and every divorce is unique. Because of this, courts can make decisions with regard to things like property distribution and child custody and support that surprise the divorcing spouses.
The uncertainty of how things are going to be resolved by a court can exacerbate an already stressful situation. Having everything already determined in a prenuptial agreement can prevent this from happening, or at least minimize the stress.