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What to know about prenuptial agreements

Boiled down, a prenuptial agreement, or prenup for short, is a private, documented and signed agreement between a couple before marriage. The prenup dictates how their assets will be allocated upon death or divorce and each state has differing laws on how to enforce and validate a prenup.

Other factors to understand regarding prenups include fairness, full disclosure, counsel, planning, premarital assets, setting alimony terms, property division and child support and rights; all of which will be discussed further below.

Circumstantial fairness

Most states require both parties to disclose all their assets which helps set the stage for a fair agreement, but that can also depend on the circumstances each couple is facing. In a circumstance of a couple being married for several years, possibly decades, the lower net-worth partner should be provided for fairly while the high net-worth partner still protects their assets.

Gain personal counsel and plan ahead

Each partner should have their own attorney when working toward a prenuptial agreement. Some states require this, while others allow both parties to work through a single attorney. In some states, prenups developed right before marriage can be rejected. If this is the path you wish to take discuss it with your partner long before your marriage date.

Premarital assets

These are usually off limits and a point of emphasis in prenup negotiations. Thus, any assets either party acquired before marriage will remain that person’s property. Anther stipulation that can be added to a prenup, is that any assets acquired during the marriage are property of the couple and can be subject division.

Alimony terms

Alimony is a legal duty to provide a spouse with financial support before or after separation or divorce. Many prenups end up waiving alimony considering the couple will be both receiving assets.

Division of property

Considering your property that you bring into the marriage is permanently yours, you can choose to disperse that property to whomever you choose, but certain provisions, determined by state, may have to be followed that will benefit your spouse.

Lastly, children are off the table. Courts do not allow the bargaining of child support or child rights during the construction of a prenuptial agreement.

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