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Prenup News
Should I Sign a Prenuptial Agreement
When Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement

You may need a prenup agreement to protect yourself from financial disaster. Sometime before the wedding your loved one may bring up the issue of a prenuptial agreement. Don't panic. You've heard about prenuptial agreements. Donald and Ivana Trump had one. Liz Taylor and construction worker Larry Fortensky had one. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have one. Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman have one. A prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup, is a way to protect your interests if it is time to untie the knot.
"I think prenups are brilliant. I get taken care of very well." Catherine Zeta-Jones, who married Michael Douglas with a prenup
But prenups are not just for celebrities. If the two of you are young and are starting out with just the shirts on your backs, you probably don't need a prenuptial agreement. But if you have property, investments, a partnership interest or a business of your own, a prenuptial agreement is valuable. It is important to talk this out ahead of time so you are both comfortable with the arrangements. Here you'll find out what is a prenuptial agreement, when you need one, when you whould sign a prenup, and how to get more in your prenuptial agreement.

Although 50% of all marriages end in divorce, no one expects to be one of those statistics. It's hard to anticipate divorce and alimony ahead of time, while love and romance are in the air. But the prenuptial agreement provides the financial agreement for the business side of your marriage. It has nothing to do with love and romance. It is about cold hard cash. Women are living longer, earning more and have more responsibilities than in earlier days. If you don't look after yourself, who will? A prenuptial agreement will save both of you money and heartache.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that defines your financial arrangements. It lists the assets and liabilities that each of you own before marriage. It defines what the community property will be during the marriage. And it determines how the property will be distributed if the marriage ends. It also provides how much support the spouse will receive. If the marriage ends because of the death of a spouse, the prenutial agreement determines what you receive, even if the will says something different.

Unmarried couples can use a cohabitation agreement if they do not expect to marry. People who are already married can use a postnuptial agreement, also called a postmarital agreement, to agree on their financial settlements.

With a prenuptial agreement, you both are entitled to keep the assets you owned when you entered into marriage. The community property, the assets and money you accumulated during the marriage is often divided between the spouses. The prenuptial agreement may specify a lump sum financial settlement for you at the time of divorce, or it may specify alimony payments. In this enlightened age, men can sue for alimony payments from the wife, too.

The laws about prenuptial agreements vary from state to state and country to country. In France, Italy and Germany you need a prenuptial agreement in order to be legally married. As of now, the United Kingdom doesn't recognize prenuptial agreements.

The prenuptial agreement must be a written document that both of you freely sign in front of a notary. Both of you must fully disclose everything you own. A prenuptial agreement must be fair, in that it cannot leave one spouse penniless. The prenuptial agreement cannot specify child support, custody issues or assets that might pass to the children. You'll need a separate legal document for that.

When You Need a Prenuptial Agreement

Do you own property before marriage? Are you providing for children from a prior marriage or leaving them family property in your will? Do you individually own a business? Do you have a retirement benefits plan? Do you want to avoid responsibility for the other person's debts?

In your prenuptial agreement you can also agree how to manage your joint finances during marriage. Who will pay the bills? Will you have joint bank accounts? Who will pay the household expenses like food, rent and utilities, credit cards and student loans? Who will pay for the house you buy together? How much money will you put into savings? Will you file joint income tax returns and who will pay the taxes? Will you use a mediator to settle future financial disagreements?

A Prenuptial Agreement Can Protect You

Here's how a prenuptial agreement can protect you.
  • You may be asked to sign a prenuptial agreement to prove that you are not a gold digger marrying just for the money.
  • You'll find out how much he's worth and what his debts are. Sometimes, the spouse is actually living beyond his means and doesn't have the money to support his lifestyle.
  • A prenuptial agreement can protect you from having to pay the debts he had before marriage.
  • If one of you is a partner in a business, the business partnership agreement is likely to require a prenuptial agreement. Otherwise, your interest in the business would have to be sold to raise cash to pay off the divorcing spouse.
  • If your assets are in land or property that cannot be quickly sold, you need a prenuptial agreement to avoid the catastrophe of a forced sale. If you receive payments from a trust fund, you'll need a prenuptial agreement to protect your trust.
  • A prenuptial agreement is important if one of you remarries after the divorce. In many states, when your ex remarries, what you receive in alimony and child support is calculated on the combined income of your ex and his new wife. So if his new wife has money of her own, you as the ex-wife can sue for additional alimony and child support.
  • In a prenuptial agreement, a spouse can completely waive all rights to property, alimony and future inheritances, but the spouse should be compensated adequately for this waiver.
  • Some religious faiths may require special terms in your prenuptial agreement, so that both spouses can remarry.

How to Negotiate Your Prenuptial Agreement

Although a divorce is always an emotional disaster, a prenuptial agreement can make divorce less bitter and less stressful. The terms of your prenuptial agreement can be negotiated like any contract. If your fiancee asks you to sign a prenuptial agreement, get a lawyer of your own to review the document to see that it protects your interest in the marriage. Your lawyer will make sure that the agreement is enforceable in a court of law. And you should ask your fiancee to pay your lawyer's fees !!

The prenuptial agreement can have some unusual provisions. Prenuptial agreements for some of the rich and famous include a large additional payment if he cheats on her, or vice versa. Often the payments are graduated and increase with the length of the marriage and the number of children you have together.

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