Draft Prenuptial Agreement

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What Does It Mean to Draft a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup or premarital agreement, helps couples settle a hypothetical divorce more easily. While no one wants to imagine separating from their spouse before they’ve even wed, it can be a wise decision to divide your assets and plan for the possibility.

If you want to divide assets evenly or set rules regarding alimony (spousal support), then a prenuptial agreement can do so even before you’ve gotten legally married. It can make the separation process much easier if it occurs by eliminating many sources of conflict and stress.

Prenups are often underused among couples, especially in America, where the divorce rate is around 50%. Although divorce lawyers have seen an increase in prenuptial agreements among clients in recent years, there is still a great deal of stigma and even superstition surrounding this type of document.

Here is an article that defines prenuptial agreement.

What is the Purpose of a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements are meant to protect the best interests of spouses in a marriage. The best time to discuss how to handle a divorce is when you aren’t planning for one at all.

By considering the potential separation, a couple can make the most loving and fair decisions for themselves and one another.

Prenuptial agreements also protect a person’s personal assets, like businesses and real estate.

Some prenups also include details about inheritance. In America, automatic property rights are common in many states. These rights entitle spouses to property they share with their spouse during their marriage and, sometimes, even property their spouse had prior to marriage.

Prenups can waive a spouse’s right to property and other assets that they would otherwise automatically inherit in the event of death or divorce.

Furthermore, premarital agreements can also outline a couple’s feelings toward child support and child custody for children they currently have or children they plan to have in the future. While this does not enforce custody rights, it can be used in a family court later as a judge determines the best arrangement for children.

Here is an article with more details on the benefits of a prenuptial agreement.

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What Should Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

If you are considering drafting a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, there are several common factors you might want to cover.

You are not legally obligated to add every single topic, but some states do have their own requirements for prenuptial agreements. Make sure that you consult with a lawyer or conduct thorough research beforehand to avoid entering an agreement that isn’t enforceable.

1. Property Division

Your prenup can specify what property you own before the marriage and ensure it remains separate from your spouse after you wed. In the event of divorce, the prenup can outline how you will handle married property. A common arrangement is for couples to sell any property they share and split the profit 50/50.

2. Financial Obligations

Some couples use their prenuptial agreements to organize how their finances will be managed during their marriage. For example, one spouse may agree to pay for housing expenses, while the other pays for utility bills.

3. Debt Responsibility

If one or both parties enter the marriage with debt, the premarital agreement can clarify what debt each person has and ensure that it remains their sole responsibility to pay for during the marriage. This can also prevent either party from being held accountable for debts in the event of divorce, which can be particularly important if a party has serious financial liability.

4. Family and Children Rights

Parties that have children from previous relationships can use their premarital agreement to ensure any property inheritance rights for their children stay in place. This can prevent children from losing access to their parents’ estate in states that have automatic inheritance.

The same applies for family members who the party wishes to inherit their property and possessions in the event of their death.

5. Estate Instructions

A prenuptial agreement does not replace a last will and testament, but it can legally support those documents to ensure a person’s wishes are followed.

6. Alimony

While some states require spousal support, a prenup can be used to specify how much money one party has to pay the other. However, you cannot use a prenup to forfeit alimony rights.

Here is an article with ContractsCounsel’s guide on what to include in a prenuptial agreement.

Who Can Write a Prenuptial Agreement?

States set their own rules for prenups. Some states permit couples to write their own agreements, but they must be signed and notarized by a notary. Other states require prenuptial agreements to be drafted by licensed attorneys.

While some couples use handwritten prenups, these come with certain risks. In many states, prenups are highly technical and require specific legal terms and conditions to be legally valid and enforceable.

If you write your own prenup, it could still be deemed inadmissible in divorce court, even if it was signed and notarized.

The best way to protect your assets and interests is to work with a credible lawyer.

Here is an article with a guide to choosing a lawyer for your prenup.

What Does a Typical Prenuptial Agreement Look Like?

Prenups vary by state and individual, both in terms of requirements and each couple’s preferences. A typical prenup agreement tends to focus on asset division, primarily each party’s sole right to their assets before entering marriage and after divorce.

Prenups also tend to discuss debt in detail, which assures each person’s financial obligations remain their own during the marriage and if it ends.

Couples will often disagree on certain terms as they work through the agreement, which is a natural part of the prenuptial agreement process. Working with a lawyer also helps you negotiate better since they can act as a mediator.

Here is an article that features a lawyer’s perspective on prenuptial agreements and what to look for in one.

What Nullifies a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements can be nullified if they exclude certain legal requirements, or they are found to be exceedingly unfair to one party. Also, if a spouse hides any assets or debts from their partner when signing a prenup, their entire agreement will be deemed legally void.

Cheating or personal acts of betrayal do not nullify a prenuptial agreement. Couples’ personal reasons for divorce do not have any influence on the stipulations of their previously signed agreement.

Here is an article that details exactly what events can make a prenup void. You can also consult with a prenuptial agreement layer in your state to determine what circumstances could affect your document.

How Much Does it Cost to Draft a Prenuptial Agreement?

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace average prenuptial agreement cost is $550. Keep in mind that costs can fluctuate based on lawyers’ specific rates and the complexity of an agreement.

You may also pay an hourly rate on top of your prenup if you decide to negotiate terms and seek legal advice from your lawyer during the prenuptial agreement drafting process.

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