A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement that a couple create and sign before they get married, and which is then referenced in the event of a divorce, separation, or death of one spouse, and which may even be used during the marriage. While a prenuptial agreement may not sound very romantic, it can be a necessary step to take when considering marriage.
A family lawyer can explain how such an agreement can benefit you personally, but note some of the basics about what might be included in such an agreement and how they can benefit couples.
1. Keeps debt separate
The debts incurred by one spouse are often considered the responsibility of both spouses once they get married, and a creditor can often go after shared or marital property to settle those debts. A spouse's credit rating can also be damaged by the debts of their spouse.
A prenuptial agreement can help to protect each spouse from having this happen, if it notes that they will keep their finances separate during the marriage. The prenuptial agreement may determine that the spouses will keep separate credit cards and bank accounts and even file their taxes separately, so that each spouse is protected from the debt of another.
2. Solidifies agreements about payment for each other's expenses
The opposite of keeping debt separate, a prenuptial agreement may make provisions for one spouse to pay for another's expenses, for example, if one spouse wants to go to school or start a business. The prenuptial agreement can ensure that this is agreed upon and may also include provisions for that spouse to pay back the other in case of a later divorce or higher earnings.
3. Provides for children from a previous marriage
Prenuptial agreements will rarely state how child support and visitation will be handled in the event of a divorce, since courts will consider the welfare of a child at his or her age and circumstances at the time as being most important.
However, if a spouse has a child from a previous marriage, the prenuptial agreement can spell out how that child will be provided for in case of a divorce or death. This protects their interest but also protects the new spouse and their children and any marital assets or property that were acquired during the second marriage.
Note that prenuptial agreements will not spell out every detail of a marriage, including household chores and how children will be raised. Speak to a family lawyer about what can and cannot be included in such an agreement, and so that he or she can ensure your rights are protected throughout a marriage with a prenuptial agreement.