Reading Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer
“Nuptial” is a root word related to marriage, so a “prenuptial” agreement takes place before you and your partner marry. In today’s world, divorce is as common as anything else. Recent figures still have the U.S. divorce rate at 50%. You know today that you want to be together forever, but you don’t know what will happen in 30 years. A prenuptial agreement allows you and your spouse to play by a set of alternative rules which can allow for an easier and less stressful separation experience.
If that sounds too bleak, consider this: Marriage, one of the most legally significant things you can do, requires no disclosure. There is a plethora of disclosure when buying a home. You must disclose information when applying for a loan. Even a trip to the doctor requires disclosure. You can get married without any background checks, and all your future property is suddenly tied to this other person. Instead of thinking about a prenuptial agreement as a shield against things going wrong, think of it as planning for your finances.
Prenups can also set expectations for your marriage before you say, “I do.” They can determine beforehand how money is distributed and spent. It’s no secret that married couples argue about money. Prenups can help lay the groundwork to avoid that trouble in the future. The best way to look at a prenup is as a set of instructions for how you and your partner will manage the legal and financial aspects of your marriage. This can help you strengthen your relationship. You can keep the focus on each other rather than making life decisions as you go. As a couple, you will have a clearer game plan for your partnership. The best part is that prenuptial agreements are always modifiable, so you can renegotiate every few years.
If you’re considering a prenup, contact us to learn more about our premarital planning services in Pennsylvania : (610) 200-6665.
The Prenup Process
There are two kinds of contracts you can use for premarital planning. One is called a “unilateral contract.” This agreement benefits only one person, the one who doesn’t sign it. The person who signs a unilateral contract is giving up their right to anything and everything involving the other.
A prenuptial agreement will help both parties. As evidence to this fact, it is signed by both parties. Once signed and agreed upon, the contract goes into effect when the couple marries. The specific actions outlined within the contract take effect if the couple divorces or if one of them passes away.
We have the knowledge and experience to walk couples through the premarital planning process. Working with you, we will hear both parties and help you craft an agreement that is fairest to each of you. Along the way, we can also challenge you and your partner to consider a variety of scenarios that often plague newly married couples. We are not working for just one person in the couple; we are working for your marriage.
Aren’t Prenups Only for the Wealthy?
Without question, premarital contracts are often used in relationships where one person makes more money than the other. That’s what most people imagine when they think of a prenup agreement. However, prenups have benefits for any newlywed couple. These benefits aren’t just one-sided, either. No matter who owns what entering the relationship, everyone can benefit from a prenuptial contract.
Mutual Benefits of a Premarital Contract
The beauty of a prenup is it can consider a variety of things beyond just how you and your spouse will handle your assets. It can assign provisions on children, jobs, location of residence, and more. For example, one spouse may have a sum of money set aside in an estate to be used only for their children. Prenuptial contracts can keep both spouses from being able to use that money, making sure the kids get what they’re owed.
Most of us would consider gifts to be items that belong exclusively to us. Your great aunt gave you the family ring, and you want to make sure it will always belong to you. Prenups can include such clauses, clearly defining that all gifts belong to the giftee, and you can always agree to do otherwise down the line.
Similarly, a prenup can clearly define anything you brought into the marriage as your own. Maybe you have an old comic book collection that, to you, is worth more than gold. With a premarital contract, you know that you will always keep your comics, and your spouse will always have their treasured record collection.
Prenuptial agreements can also offer peace of mind that lasts well into the relationship, especially if this marriage is not your first. It bears repeating: Couples fight about money. You and your partner can definitively decide, up front, how your money is spent. Some couples, for example, contribute their percentage of the household income to the household utilities. Sally makes 60% of the overall family earnings, so she pays 60% of the light bill. If the income percentages shift, then payment expectations shift too. Decisions like these can be made up front and put in writing, and you’ll never have to argue about them again.
And remember, you and your partner can always modify your prenup later into your marriage. You can even build in vesting clauses, whereby, after a certain period of time, the prenup becomes void. Vesting clauses could also create a built-in time frame for adjustments based on incomes or the acquisition of joint assets.
The kinds of decisions that are made in divorce can be made up front. If the worst happens, you already know who will get the house, who will get the dog, and so forth. This saves you time, money, and most importantly, stress and uncertainty. Change can be scary. The unknown can be even scarier. Premarital contracts aren’t there just to protect the person with more money. They’re there to make life easier on everyone.
Child Support and Custody
A premarital agreement cannot have any effect on future child support or child custody battles. It is a binding contract between you and your spouse, meaning only you and your partner are parties to the agreement. As such, child support does not belong to you or your spouse; it belongs to the child. Prenuptial agreements can determine an amount of temporary support or alimony in a divorce, but it cannot wave your child’s right to support. Child support is based on the court’s determination of what the child needs to maintain a normal, healthy life.
Custody, too, is determined by the courts. Judges are acting in the best interests of the children, not the parents or their contracts. You cannot plan beforehand who will get the children in a divorce, at least not with a prenuptial agreement. Remember, a prenuptial agreement is a set of rules for you and your spouse to follow. If a decision does not directly relate to the two of you, it will be subject to the divorce code.
Prenuptial Contracts Can Be Nullified
Like any contract, prenups are only as protective as they are written well. When it comes to prenups, getting it right the first time is key and working with a trusted lawyer who can help you create a rock-solid premarital agreement is vital. The last thing you want is to marry thinking your prenup was correctly executed only to find out it wasn’t, or maybe that provision you thought would separate your business interest from your marital didn’t. In the state of Pennsylvania, prenups are extremely hard to contest, but judges do have the freedom to nullify a prenup in very specific situations. While they cannot make this decision haphazardly, they can be convinced of certain details.
A judge can null a premarital contract if they believe:
- One party was coerced into signing the contract. A crafty arguer can convince a judge that their client didn’t really want to sign the prenup to begin with. With our experience, we can write a clear, direct contract. Each party went into the agreement willingly, and we want to reflect that.
- One party misrepresented themselves. A courtroom opponent can spin a narrative that you pretended to be in debt when you secretly had a substantial sum of money. They may even be able to produce a paper trail that suggests this idea. One of the most important ways to combat this story is with the prenuptial agreement itself. We can help you word it in such a way that, regardless of whatever assets were brought into the marriage, both parties can be protected if it ends.
- The premarital contract is too one-sided. This would likely happen only if the contract left one party destitute. A good prenup, by its very nature, would not do that to anyone signing it. We want to get the contract right the first time. We are here to help ensure that this kind of nullification will not happen.
Contact us now at (610) 200-6665 to start planning for a bright, secure future.
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