Getting married is supposed to be a fun event, an exciting time in the life of a newly engaged couple. However, discussing a Prenuptial Agreement “Prenup”, while often necessary, can put a damper on this otherwise joyous occasion.
Many people have an old-fashioned idea when it comes to Prenups. This idea is typically when one spouse (usually older) has the bulk of the income and financial assets and another spouse (usually younger) who is less well off financially and dependent on the other spouse.
In the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia areas, more couples than ever are marrying at a point in their lives where they both have accumulated significant assets, including not only property, but business interests and investments. With these couples there isn’t such a divide coming into the marriage, there is wealth on both sides of the aisle to be protected.
As a family law attorney, one of the most frequently asked questions I often receive is – “How do I bring up a Prenup with my future spouse?”
I like to answer this question by suggesting the parties engage in the collaborative process and view creating a Prenup as a shared goal.
A well-written Prenup is intended to protect both parties and set out the financial expectations for the marriage in a friendly and cooperative manner. Drafting an agreement to govern a marriage or relationship should not be an adversarial process, it should involve two people and their lawyers coming together and negotiating to allow both parties to feel comfortable and secure in their marriage going forward.
Considerations for creating a Prenup:
- Create a Financial Asset Spreadsheet
- Discuss current income and expected income over the next decade
- Discuss Spousal Support
- Discuss Managing Household Finances
- Discuss Retirement – and when you plan to retire
- Discuss Estate Planning and Life Insurance
The collaborative process utilizes a team approach to help clients meet their goals and with prenuptial agreements the goal is a happy and successful marriage.
Marriage is the only contract you’ll ever enter into without seeing the terms of the agreement first. A Prenup allows a couple to lay out the terms of that contract before entering into it.
Questions you should ask when discussing a Prenup are:
- What is the difference between Marital and Separate Property?
- What happens to your current assets when you get married?
- Do your current assets stay your separate property never changing, or do they immediately become marital property?
- What happens to new assets that you purchase after marriage?
- What happens if you sell an asset you had prior to marriage and buy a new asset with your future spouse?
If you’re interested in discussing whether a Prenuptial Agreement may be right for you and your future spouse, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced family law attorney to discuss whether or not you are satisfied with the default laws in the event of divorce or separation or if you want to collaborate to craft a contract that meets your family’s unique needs.