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Risky Business: Top Five Reasons for a Prenuptial Agreement

There was a time when prenuptial agreements were the domain of celebrities or the wealthy.  Times have changed, and prenuptial agreements are now common for couples of all ages anticipating marriage.

Defined under Domestic Relations Law 236 (B) (3), a prenuptial agreement is a legal contract describing ownership and disposition of assets if a marriage ends. The agreement also characterizes terms of spousal maintenance, child custody, and support, and other issues of importance.

While some people view prenuptial agreements as plans for divorce, the truth is that no one plans on divorce.  People marrying today know the risk of divorce is high.  Working through the hard questions and decisions posed by a prenuptial agreement gives my clients a ringside seat to the style and commitment of their partner in handling marriage issues and disputes in years to come.

Five good reasons to prepare a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Full financial disclosure
  • Protection of assets from the marital estate
  • Future debt or tax protection
  • Protection of estate planning designations
  • Definition of use of separate property in the marriage

Preparation of a prenuptial agreement should begin before the wedding arrangements.  Presenting an agreement to a fiancée a few weeks before a wedding is a good reason to be left at the altar.

Divorce is a big risk of marriage.  Discussing that risk and facing the realities of how a marriage should end is as important as the euphoria and wedding plans at the beginning.

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