Prenuptial agreement. It is rare that two words cause as much fear, anger, and anxiety as these. But they shouldn’t. Prenuptial agreements, or prenups as they are often called, serve several valuable purposes in a relationship. Many couples may want a prenuptial agreement for one or more of the below reasons.
Sometimes a presumptive spouse has been previously married. That previous marriage could have ended badly, leaving the spouse in a much worse financial position than they expected. Sometimes the spouse is saddled with alimony payments they feel are unfair. A prenup may help make the partners more confident and less fearful about the impending nuptials knowing how things will be handled should it not work out.
Another situation that can give rise to the desire for a prenuptial agreement is when two spouses enter a marriage with vastly unequal assets. This may cause the wealthier spouse, or their family, to insist on a prenup to protect against the possibility that a short-lived marriage may cause the less wealthy spouse to gain a significant financial windfall from a quick divorce. Wealthy families can view romantic partners of their children as potential “gold-diggers” just out to score a slice of the family fortune. Having a prenup in this situation can ease family tensions and lead to a family giving its blessing where it otherwise might not have. Sometimes, the less wealthy partner will suggest the prenup in order to make clear their intentions in the relationship and to short-circuit any potential bad feelings from relatives.
A third reason that a couple may want a prenup is the existence of children from a previous relationship. A prenup can ensure that those children share in the inheritance after their parent’s death. It prevents any possibility that the spouse or, if the spouse predeceases them, other kids or family members can cut the child out of the estate.
There are other reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement. One is to partition debt, preventing the debts one spouse will bring into the marriage from attaching to the assets another spouse may bring. Another is to protect specific property, perhaps a family homestead or heirloom, from becoming part of the marital property that gets divided upon divorce. Yet another reason is professional. Many partnerships or closely held corporations require all members to have prenups as a provision of their organizing documents in order to protect the other members from being forced into business with someone they may not choose to partner with or who has little knowledge of the business.
Ultimately, there are many good reasons to have a prenuptial agreement. A prenup allows a couple to plan in a logical fashion, while there is still a copious amount of goodwill toward one another, and to execute a divorce in a manner that will not unfairly injure one another, as they might do when the bad emotions take over. Having a prenup creates a firm set of expectations for what a divorce will entail. This frees spouses from feeling pressured to stay in a toxic marriage out of financial uncertainty, and it reassures spouses that their spouse has a path out of the marriage that leaves them secure, so they do not have to wonder if their partner is remaining in the relationship out of financial convenience. Prenups may instigate fear and anxiety in many people, but they should do just the opposite.
If you have questions about prenuptial agreements or think that one may be appropriate for you, contact the Indiana family law attorneys at McNeely Law today.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.