Should I sign a prenuptial agreement?
For centuries, in cultures all over the world, marriage was considered a kind of business transaction, unifying two families. As the romantic aspects of marriage have become more prominent, and divorce has become more common, the realities of merging and/or separating property ownership are, of necessity, being reconsidered. Because of the disturbing, undeniable statistics surrounding marriage and divorce, more and more couples are considering the possibility that signing a prenuptial agreement ("prenup" for short) is a sensible option. For couples planning to marry and considering the value of a prenup, it is crucial to have a highly competent family attorney to assist them in the process.
Reasons for Signing a Prenuptial Agreement
There are many reasons for signing a prenuptial agreement, none of them are romantic. The very fact of signing a prenuptial agreement indicates that the couple is taking into account the sad possibility that their marriage may not last "until death do them part." On the other hand, as adults we sign many documents, from insurance forms to health care directives, based on negative prognostications that we would rather deny. Still, we usually agree that such documents have value.
Reasons for having a prenuptial agreement drafted and signed include:
- Protecting inheritance rights of your children and grandchildren from a previous marriage
- Protecting your own practice or business from interference by your former spouse if you divorce
- Making sure that you do not have to take over your spouse's debt in case of a divorce
- Making sure you are compensated if you have to give up a high-paying career after a divorce, perhaps to assume more of a childcare role
- Limiting the amount of spousal support you will have to pay if you divorce
- Protecting your assets if you are entering into a second or subsequent marriage, especially if you have accumulated substantial wealth
Reasons It May Not Be in Your Best Interests to Sign a Prenup
For many people, being asked to sign a prenup at their intended's request is a deal-breaker since it implies a lack of faith in the marriage and in the intended spouse as well. Some reasons not to sign a prenup include:
- The prenup may prevent you from inheriting your spouse's estate upon his or her death, a right to which you are otherwise entitled, even if your spouse dies without a will (intestate)
- The prenup may prevent you from reaping the benefits of a share of your spouse's business or professional practice, even if you have been involved in making that business or practice a success
- The lack of trust that a prenuptial agreement implies may set a bad foundation for your marriage, making one or both parties suspicious and uncertain
- It is possible that you will not make the wisest or most self-protective decisions regarding a prenup at the time when your decisions are clouded by romantic dreams
In general, prenuptial agreements are designed to protect the interests of the wealthier partner in the impending marriage by preserving his or her assets and by keeping him or her from having to assume the debts of the spouse after a divorce.
The Importance of Consulting with an Attorney Well-Versed in the Field
If you and your intended are discussing the possibility of a prenup, you should each consult with an experienced family law attorney to make sure your interests are well protected. It is very important that the lawyers you consult withare familiar with the laws in your state and jurisdiction. For more information and assistance in the Capital Region of New York State, please consult with our excellent family attorneys at Ianniello Anderson. We serve clients in the Albany, Clifton Park, Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs, Troy, and the entire Northeastern NY areas and can be reached at 518.350.7755.