There is a common fear among people who have been asked to sign a prenuptial agreement. Most believe that signing a prenup will make them more likely to divorce. However, the good news is that there is little evidence that this is the case.
Prenuptial agreements are widely misunderstood. In some cases, signing one may increase the likelihood of a divorce, and in other cases, it may decrease the likelihood of a divorce. However, in all cases, it ensures you understand your financial situation before entering a marriage.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that determines how both parties’ assets are disbursed if the marriage ends. The agreement covers the following:
- Assets brought into the marriage by both parties
- Assets purchased or earned during the marriage
- Property inherited or received as gifts from family
- Assets typically considered to be joint property
- Child support arrangements, assuming children exist or are expected
Since these agreements are contracts, judges will typically respect them and effectuate the agreements unless they violate state law.
Why may people hesitate to sign a prenuptial agreement?
The main reason that people are hesitant to sign a prenuptial agreement is that it seems like planning for failure. If your future spouse requests a prenuptial agreement, it may appear that they expect the marriage to fail.
Reasons to Sign a Prenuptial Agreement
Despite these fears, marriages with prenuptial agreements don’t inevitably fail. And the reason is the same reason that other marriages don’t fail. If both spouses love each other and are compatible, there is no reason to end the marriage.
Surprisingly, though, even if you believe your marriage will last a lifetime, it may be wise to sign a prenuptial agreement. When you sign this type of contract, you know exactly what your financial situation will be like after a divorce. This removes a potential type of stress. And stress, even unrelated stress, is often something that causes divorce.
Can a Prenuptial Agreement Lead to Divorce
Sometimes having a prenuptial agreement may lead to divorce, but only when there are other factors leading to divorce as well. For example, if your spouse abuses you, a prenuptial agreement might make you more confident to divorce them.
Because the prenuptial agreement exists, you know exactly what your financial situation will be like after the divorce. Your spouse can’t fight to get more assets from you or prevent you from getting the assets you deserve. In short, there is no risk you will be at their mercy after the marriage is dissolved.
In a case like this, the divorce was caused by your spouse’s actions. But the prenuptial agreement made it safe for you to escape that situation. Without a prenuptial agreement, you might not have felt like you could divorce safely.
Can you sign a prenup after the marriage starts?
No, but you can create a postnuptial agreement. It functions roughly the same although it can be subject to further scrutiny. Also it may be harder to bring up a postnuptial agreement with your spouse. However, a postnuptial agreement can be an excellent option if you receive significant separate property through inheritance or other financial decisions which may mean you and your spouse want to protect your separate assets.
Contact an Experienced Attorney for a Prenup
If you are about to get married, you should consult with an experienced attorney about a prenuptial agreement. The family law lawyers at Aiello & DiFalco in Garden City, NY, can help you create a prenup that will protect your finances.