11 Things to Include in a Prenuptial Agreement

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A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between two parties before marriage. It details each individual's assets and specifies how the couple will handle financial issues should they choose to divorce.

A prenuptial agreement will help ensure that difficult issues like how to divide assets, alimony, and child support don’t become legal sticking points in the event a divorce happens. This is much more likely to result in an uncontested divorce.

A prenuptial agreement can benefit any couple that intends to marry. Still, they are often associated with wealthy individuals.

Many people also opt to create a separation agreement these days that sets out what will happen after legal separation but before a divorce is finalized.

Here are 11 things to include in a prenuptial agreement.

1. Spouse Information

Like any contract, a prenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, as they are sometimes known, needs to include the names of both parties. These should be your full legal names.

2. Separate Assets and Debts

Often, there is a section that includes a list of the assets and debts of both spouses before the marriage and excludes these from the agreement.

This can help prevent financial issues later, especially when one spouse has many more assets or liabilities at the time of marriage.

3. Joint Assets and Debts

Another section most prenuptial contracts will address is any joint assets and debts the parties have or will purchase and how those will be divided in the event of a divorce. This might include who gets which assets, who is responsible for which loans or mortgages, etc.

4. Children from Previous Marriage

A prenuptial agreement should have a detailed section that includes items about children from a previous marriage. These days, it’s very common that people will blend their families when they marry, and both spouses might have children from previous relationships.

In the event of a divorce, will these children be included in any of the divorce and child support provisions, and if so, to what extent?

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5. Marital Responsibilities

Most people have certain expectations of their spouse when they choose to get married. As a result, it’s not uncommon to detail these expectations in a section of a premarital agreement.

Sometimes, these marital responsibilities relate to having and caring for children. Still, it could be anything that both parties agree to.

6. Work

Sometimes, spouses feel they need to formalize their approach to work in their prenuptial agreement.

This could refer to work during the marriage and how it might affect the marriage. Alternatively, it could be a requirement that both spouses continue to work after a divorce, regardless of any spousal support agreements.

7. Family Property

In some cases, certain assets might be considered family property. This might include things like vacation homes or businesses. If you have or plan to have any property like that, you might need to include a section about how they will be shared and used.

Likewise, sometimes one spouse will enter the marriage with the family property of the other – like an heirloom ring. A premarital agreement might include stipulations about returning those kinds of items.

8. Inheritance Rights

In most areas, automatic inheritance rights give a spouse or child automatic property rights. However, suppose the spouses creating a premarital agreement do not want to follow those regulations. In that case, they can include their own provisions in the agreement.

It’s important to note that some places do not allow you to disinherit a spouse or child completely. So it’s always a good idea to find out what is permitted before you draft this section.

9. Property Division in Divorce

Usually, the property is the most significant asset that spouses will acquire in a marriage, so it’s essential to determine how it will be handled in the event of a divorce.

If you have more than one property, you might each choose one or more that you want to have as part of a divorce. Or you might decide to sell all your properties and divide the money from the sale. A lawyer can advise you what your options for property division are.

10. Confidentiality Agreements

Sometimes, mainly when one spouse is well known, a confidentiality agreement will be included in a premarital agreement, or sometimes, even in a postnuptial agreement.

These usually include what each spouse may and may not say about the other and what the penalties for any public statements might be.

11. Spouse Signatures

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document. Like all legal documents, it must be properly completed and signed to be valid and legally binding.

You and your spouse-to-be will need to sign and date the document, and you will usually require one or more witnesses to sign alongside. Both parties will be given a copy of the completed document, too, to have a record of what was agreed.

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