What is a prenuptial agreement and why do couples get them?

Kyla LinesInformation, Prenup

A prenuptial agreement (also known as an “antenuptial agreement,” “premarital agreement,” or, most commonly, a “prenup”) is a contract entered into by two people before they marry.  The contract of a prenuptial agreement in Atlanta sets forth the rights and responsibilities of each party in the event of a divorce.  It is easier to make those decisions when you are both happy and in love than it is when you are hurt and angry. For a prenup to be valid and upheld in case of divorce, it must follow very specific guidelines and include very specific language.  It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice in drafting a prenup.

The reasons couples enter into prenuptial agreements are as varied and unique as the couples themselves. You may want to consult an attorney about prenuptial agreements if:

  • Either party has considerable assets.

If one party is coming into the marriage with a home, investment account, or other significant assets, a prenuptial agreement in Atlanta can determine whether those assets will be considered separate or marital property in the event of a divorce. Without a valid prenuptial agreement in place, it is possible that separate or premarital property could lose its separate quality and become marital property, which is divided between spouses during divorce.

  • Either party has considerable debts.

With student loan debt on the rise, in addition to credit card, mortgage and other debt, many parties enter a marriage with considerable financial obligations.  A prenup can be used to keep debts separate in the event of a divorce so that the party who did not incur the debt is not responsible for paying part of it.

  • The parties have vastly different income.

In the event of a divorce, a prenup can outline the amount of support (“alimony”) that will be paid to the lesser-earning spouse.  The court will have discretion to change this amount if it has become unfair due to a change in circumstances, but having an agreement in place can streamline the process.

  • Either party owns a business.

If either party owns a business, a prenup can protect the business’s assets and protect the non-owner from business liabilities.

  • If either party might inherit large sums.

While an inheritance is not considered marital property, commingling that inherited property could make it lose its separate quality and become marital property.  A prenup can help maintain a party’s separate interest in his or her inherited property. Frequently, it is the parents of the bride or groom that has the large potential inheritance who will insist upon a prenup for their child.

  • You have been in the relationship a long time before you are going to get married.

Sometimes parties have been together for a long time before getting married. A prenup can state that those years of the relationship count for support calculations in the event of divorce and can clarify ownership of individually- and jointly-titled property.

  • You’ve been married and divorced before.

Prenups can outline who pays which expenses for children from previous marriages and how assets will be split at death or in the event of a second divorce.

  • You want to start a relationship with all the financials out on the table.

Money issues are one of the leading causes of divorce.  A lot of times, conflict occurs because couples do not discuss financial information before getting married.  Drafting a prenuptial agreement in Atlanta requires couples to swap financial information, lay out their assets and debts, and talk through how they want to handle shared financial responsibilities.  This exchange of information can prevent conflict in the future.

If in doubt about whether you need a prenuptial agreement, seek expert advice from an a family law attorney in Atlanta. We are happy to consult with you on your situation to see if a prenup is right for you.