7 Important Things to Look For in a Prenuptial Agreement

Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 2,801 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a Prenuptial Agreement?

Post Project Now

Post Your Project (It's Free)

Get Bids to Compare

 Hire Your Lawyer

A prenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, is a legally binding and valid document between two people planning to wed. This document shares the couple’s memorialized desires in the event of a divorce, namely how the below are handled:

You sign a prenuptial agreement before receiving an affidavit of marriage, which is a common alternative to a marriage certificate.

Contrary to what some believe, a prenuptial agreement can lead to more minor issues and allow both parties to enter a legal separation agreement will less emotional turmoil and stress should the need arise.

Below are seven important things to include in any sound prenuptial agreement.

1. Premarital Assets and Debts

The premarital agreement should include a description of how you and your spouse will divide assets and settle debts in the event of a divorce. This can help prevent financial issues stemming from disputes over real estate, cars, and other financial assets.

Property rights should be listed clearly in the agreement if you or your spouse owned any real estate before marriage.

The court will strive to achieve a split “equitably,” meaning that both parties are given their fair portion of any assets. Any assets you owned or debts you had before marriage will remain separate from your spouse.

You may wish to include a financial affidavit outlining your assets, income, and debts before marriage so the court can see what belonged to you before you were wed.

Financial affidavits are also commonly used when calculating fair spousal support amounts.

Here is an article that provides an overview of a prenuptial agreement.

2. Assets and Debts Acquired While Married

Any assets and debts you acquire with your spouse or during your marriage will be subjected to the separation laws in your state. In addition, under automatic property rights, you and your spouse may be required to legally split the cost of any shared property you have.

Some spouses may resolve to sell any homes and shared vehicles and split the profits; others may “buy out” property and assets from another spouse.

Debts acquired during a marriage will belong to the signers. So, if you and your spouse both signed onto a loan, you must split the accountability 50/50.

Both parties are obligated to pay an equal amount, regardless of who decided to borrow the loan or how the money was distributed.

This does not influence the prenuptial agreement cost or who is responsible for any legal fees affecting the divorce.

No one inherits debt by getting married, but you can inherit debt if you borrow money with your spouse.

Here is an article to learn more about joint debt.

3. Children from Previous Marriage

A prenuptial agreement must specify that a parent should keep all rights and assets acquired before their second marriage. You can specify how assets, such as college savings accounts, may be distributed after the divorce if the spouse invested in the child’s funding.

A prenuptial agreement can also include what will happen to your personal assets in the event of your death during the marriage. For example, you can lay out what assets will go to your children (and their legally appointed guardians/other parent) and what you will leave to your current spouse.

As for financial support, a step-parent is not legally required to pay any child support to their step-children following a legal separation and divorce.

This means you cannot sue a spouse to support non-biological children after your marriage ends, even if they provided for them financially during your marriage.

However, if your spouse legally adopts your children, then those children are now theirs legally, so they will be required to pay child support until they come of age. This is 18 or 21, depending on your state.

Here is an article to learn more about stepparent adoption.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Brad H.

8 projects on CC
View Profile

Elbert T.

1 project on CC
View Profile

Michael M.

11 projects on CC
View Profile

Gregory F.

2 projects on CC
View Profile

4. Marital Responsibilities

A lesser-known clause of a prenuptial agreement is martial responsibilities. This clause details the roles each spouse will fulfill in their married relationship.

Marital responsibilities can specify the division of household chores, such as washing dishes, taking out the trash, and caring for pets.

However, it is essential to note that this clause does not make either individual legally responsible for fulfilling specific tasks in a marriage. In other words, you cannot sue your spouse for breach of contract because they are not doing chores they said they would in a premarital agreement.

Marital responsibilities are not often included in prenuptial agreements as they are not usually legally enforceable.

That being said, some couples still like to outline how they would like to include these provisions in their agreement.

Here is an article to learn more about marital responsibilities and their role in prenuptial agreements.

5. Work

Suppose you and your spouse run a business together. In that case, your prenuptial agreement can delineate how those assets will be divided and shared after your separation.

You can also clearly state that any business ventures a partner had before the marriage will remain their own after the divorce, and the spouse may not sue for any financial gains after the separation.

Here is an article that explains how a premarital agreement can help business owners protect their assets.

6. Family Property

Family property is any property that a spouse brings into a marriage. Family property that does not belong to the spouse, i.e., their name is not on the deed, will not be divided after a divorce.

The only time a spouse has an entitlement to a family property is if they were added as a legal owner of the property.

Otherwise, under property laws, the partner who originally owned the property will remain the sole custodian of the property post-separation.

In terms of housing, however, you may decide to contest your partner in court over who keeps the home. Again, a prenuptial agreement can make this easier. An uncontested divorce is ideal, which a premarital agreement can help you achieve.

Here is an article that explains who gets a house legally after a divorce and what you can do about your property rights.

7. How Property is Split in a Divorce

Property should be divided equally if both spouses own the home. However, suppose there is only one legal property owner. In that case, contests may arise over who has a right to remain in the home.

There are reasons why you may argue to keep a home following divorces, such as the emotional trauma moving and divorce can have on school-aged children.

You will have to follow your state’s divorce laws regarding property division. This may include selling any shared properties, splitting the profit, or buying the property from your spouse to become the sole owner.

Here is an article to learn more about dividing assets in a separation agreement.

Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive flat fee bids from lawyers for your project. All lawyers have been vetted by our team and peer-reviewed by our customers for you to explore before hiring.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Lawyers

Elizabeth W. on ContractsCounsel
View Elizabeth
Member Since:
December 11, 2021

Elizabeth W.

Legal Counsel
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Minneapolis, MN
5 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MA, RI
Suffolk University Law School

Liz is an experienced insurance professional, having worked with carriers and brokers for over 10 years. She can review or draft a variety of commercial agreements and is here to help your business. Specialties include: Master Service Agreements, business process outsourcing, marketing and partnership agreements, broker agreements, and NDAs.

Philip M. on ContractsCounsel
View Philip
Member Since:
December 13, 2021

Philip M.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
San Diego
4 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Thomas Jefferson School of Law

I have been a freelance attorney for several years and have many of my clients returning to me for continued work because of the quality I produce.

Amy Sue L. on ContractsCounsel
View Amy Sue
Member Since:
January 4, 2022

Amy Sue L.

President, Concierge Legal
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Washington, DC Metropolitan Area
25 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, PA, VA
Pepperdine University School of Law

Ms. Leavens is a corporate attorney with 10 years of experience as the General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary of a Congressionally chartered, non-profit corporation, and more than 20 years of experience as an advisor to executive officers and boards of directors in for-profit and non-profit organizations. She has substantial experience within in-house legal departments managing cross-functional teams comprised of multiple business units and attorneys on large-scale mission critical projects, and within a global law firm as a manager of public and private, domestic and international, multi-party business transactions. She has unique experience implementing government-sponsored business initiatives. Ms. Leavens was honored in 2015 as one of Washington, D.C.’s Top Corporate Counsel by Bisnow and the Association of Corporate Counsel; nominated in 2014 for the Association of Corporate Counsel (WMACCA) Outstanding Chief Legal Officer Award; and the recipient in 2014 of WMACCA’s Community Service Award.

Elizabeth V. on ContractsCounsel
View Elizabeth
Member Since:
January 5, 2022

Elizabeth V.

Corporate Counsel
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Indianapolis, IN
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IN
IU McKinney School of Law

Most of my career has been as in-house counsel for technology companies. My responsibilities included managing all vendor/procurement contracts and compliance, customer/partner/reseller contracts and compliance, data security/privacy compliance and incident responses, HR/employment issues, and legal operations. I am very comfortable negotiating Commercial Contracts, Vendor Agreements, and Procurement Contracts for goods, services, and licensing, as well as addressing Employment & Labor, Intellectual Property, and Data Privacy issues and compliance. I specialized and have a certificate in IP in law school and continued to develop in that area as in-house counsel for Interactive Intelligence, Genesys, which are unified communication companies, and KAR Global in the automobile digital services lines of business.

Kristen R. on ContractsCounsel
View Kristen
Member Since:
January 10, 2022

Kristen R.

Freelance Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Wyoming
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in WY
University of Wyoming

Transactional and Employment Attorney and Small Business Owner. I do inside counsel work from the outside. I demystify the law for my clients.

Amos M. on ContractsCounsel
View Amos
Member Since:
January 13, 2022

Amos M.

Principal
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Nashville, TN
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in GA, TN
Mississippi College School of Law

Since 2008, I have worked to assist clients in solving problems and addressing challenges that inevitably arise as a business grows - both anticipated and unexpected. My experience in Georgia and Tennessee in both drafting contracts and enforcing them via litigation and/or arbitration has provided clients with unique insights that help them anticipate problems and inform their decisions from start to finish.

Leah C. on ContractsCounsel
View Leah
Member Since:
January 18, 2022

Leah C.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Alabama
7 Yrs Experience
Licensed in AL
Birmingham School of Law

I am an attorney licensed in Alabama and have been in solo practice for 7 years. I have experience in Contracts drafting and review, Litigation and Immigration practice areas. I am available for new projects.

Meghan T. on ContractsCounsel
View Meghan
Member Since:
January 31, 2022

Meghan T.

Partner
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Atlanta
3 Yrs Experience
Licensed in GA
Emory University

Meghan Thomas is an accomplished transactional attorney. She specializes in real estate transactional matters, property disputes, IP, tech and media contracts. Meghan's innovative leadership style has attributed to the firm's rapid development and presence in the metro-Atlanta market. She obtained her Doctor of Law from Emory University where she worked with the State Attorney General and litigated property disputes for disadvantaged clients. ​ Prior to practicing, Meghan negotiated complex transactions for Fortune 500 tech and healthcare companies. She lives with her family in Southwest Atlanta, enjoys cooking, travel, dance and continues to develop her research in the areas of transactional law and legal sustainability.

Cecilia O. on ContractsCounsel
View Cecilia
Member Since:
January 31, 2022

Cecilia O.

Contracts Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
San Antonio
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CT, MD
Ghana School of Law

With 15 years of extensive transactional/contracts experience reviewing and negotiating commercial contracts including a wide variety of purchase orders and contracts and non-disclosure agreements (NDA), I believe I can immediately contribute to the continued success of your team. I have been commended for a range of valuable skills—excellent contract management and contract administration, legal research, risk analysis, drafting and negotiations, and strategic thinking. I have worked as a legal consultant for 10+ years and I have reviewed over 7,500 contracts through this position. Contracts I have reviewed include but not limited to purchase orders, commercial and construction contracts, equipment rental agreements, non-disclosure, confidentiality, vendor agreements, service agreements, site access agreements, international agreements, request for proposals (RFP), bids and government contracts. These experiences have enabled me to master the ability to work independently and expeditiously to identify and assess issues and provide legally sound recommendations, consistent with good business practices. I have led teams (sales, insurance and management) to successfully negotiate contract terms with customers. Effective Communicator and Negotiator. I am a people person, and for the past 13 years, I have acquired excellent oral and written communication skills that enable me to interact and negotiate effectively with stakeholders at all levels. I am a self-starter with a strong work ethic. I have a high degree of resourcefulness, diligence, and dependability. Most important, I adapt to changing priorities quickly, thriving in an environment with high volume and short turnaround deadlines. My experience over the years allows me to transfer my skills to all types of contracts to meet the client’s needs. I am hopeful to provide similar legal expertise, effective contract administration and leadership to your organization. It would be a pleasure to meet within the next few weeks and discuss how my qualifications, experience, and capabilities will best fit the needs of your outfit.

Mathew K. on ContractsCounsel
View Mathew
Member Since:
February 1, 2022

Mathew K.

Founding Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Illinois
7 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
DePaul University College of Law

Kerbis' practice includes business and real estate transactions, estate planning, and limited scope litigation consulting. Mathew has negotiated deals involving multinational corporate franchises and has collectively helped hundreds of clients with their transactional, civil litigation, and appellate legal needs. Throughout his tenure as an American Bar Association leader, Mathew has advocated for legal education reform, interviewed ABA Presidents and State Appellate and Supreme Court Justices, and lobbied Congress on behalf of the legal profession. As a law student, Mathew served as an extern for the Honorable Justice Robert E. Gordon of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District.

Tina R. on ContractsCounsel
View Tina
Member Since:
February 17, 2022

Tina R.

AGC
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Arlington, VA
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in DC, IL, VA
Loyola University Chicago

15 years for legal experience; expertise in contracts, healthcare, ERISA, physicians, financial services, commercial contracts, employment agreements, etc. I am adept at all contracts and can provide you with efficient and quality services. I have worked at a law firm, financial services company, consulting ,and non-profit.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call