The ‘Tell-All’ Of Prenuptial Agreements (And Why They Are Necessary)
With wedding season around the corner, the topic of prenuptial agreements can often inevitably come up one way or another, especially for those individuals and/or couples who want to ensure that they are protected as they enter this next exciting time in their lives.
Yet while prenuptial agreements may have a reputation for being unromantic, the truth is that every individual and couple has their own unique reasons for needing one, and these reasons can range from measuring a relationship’s emotional health, to protecting family legacy, to protecting finances, inheritance, separate property, businesses, and more. There is no question that prenups, in general, suffer from a number of misconceptions and myths, when, in fact, they simply represent smart planning. The truth of the matter is that a number of divorces come about as a result of partners not understanding their partner’s reality when it comes to financial matters and other monumental lifestyle choices, and prenups can, in some cases, head off these potential irreconcilable differences. It is unquestionable that having these conversations now as opposed to later can save significant headaches (and funds) in litigating divorce later on. This is why prenups are sometimes described, instead, as “proactive self-advocacy.”
Cohabitation, Finances & Children
A number of frustrations that lead to divorce involve cohabitation, and the surprises that come along with it. Do you, as a couple, plan to split chores 50-50? Where do you want to live? Do you plan to ever move, or do you assume you will stay in your current location together, etc.?
All of these specific subtopics center around the main theme of how you plan to run your life together, and a prenup is the time to hash these things out… Do you plan to share one bank account, or keep them separate? What about careers – Do you both plan to stay in your current careers, or change them at some point? Will that affect income levels, and how you raise and/or support your children (if you plan to have children)? What about children from a previous marriage – will you make financial decisions related to these children together, or will the biological parent in the relationship expect to make them on their own? What about your perspectives on raising children – Do you believe in disciplining children, and if so, is one parent expected to primarily do so, or both? Are you against spanking children, etc.? These can be difficult topics to bring up after the fact and in the moment, years later.
Pursuing a prenup is also an opportunity to discuss any other information that you think may require legal advice with your attorney – your desires, fears, and all thoughts on the logistics of all things important to you – so that your attorney can best advise you on how to protect yourself.
Also note that your attorney will also ask you to provide a list of all of your assets going into the marriage, such as separately owned property, 401(k) accounts, investments, etc., as well as debts.
A good family law attorney will also ask you questions that lead to information you likely have not thought of divulging, such as estate-related questions (i.e. what happens in the instance of your death). This is essentially the time for you and your attorney to broach every ‘what if’ there is out there – to contemplate the ‘impossible.’ This is done also to ensure that you are protected going into the marriage.
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While there are a number of ways that a couple can approach the prenup process, most decide to have each individual in the relationship hire their own attorney who will then represent that individual’s best interests. This is what will help to ensure that the best agreement is effective throughout the relationship, and, if applicable, afterwards.
Also know that there may be a negotiation process once all parties come together to begin the drafting process. Still, this process is significantly cheaper than going through a divorce later on.
If you have any questions about prenups, contact our Rockland County prenuptial agreement attorneys at the Law Office of Robert S. Sunshine, P.C. today to schedule a consultation and find out more.