Marriage is a big change for anyone. A successful marriage requires both spouses to trust one another. While it may not be very romantic to consider, it’s only practical for anyone to think about the possibility of the marriage not working out as planned and what they might do in that situation. Things happen. Unexpected problems could arise at any time that lead to the breakdown of a marriage. One of the best legal protections one can have in divorce is an enforceable prenuptial agreement that outlines each spouse’s rights and responsibilities in divorce.
Prenuptial agreements often carry a negative connotation because they can seem to imply that a marriage will not last. The reality is that prenuptial agreements are practical and almost necessary in many cases. At its core, a prenuptial agreement is an insurance policy that provides financial protection if a marriage deteriorates. Prenuptial agreements are particularly useful for high net worth individuals and marrying spouses that own complex assets or businesses.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a formal contract that provides the signing spouses with a complete explanation of their rights and responsibilities as married spouses. This contract will stipulate various aspects of the signing couple’s marriage, including who will retain ownership of which assets in divorce or actions that either spouse might constitute grounds for divorce. An experienced family law attorney can help a marrying couple develop their prenuptial agreement and ensure it includes as many contingencies as possible for situations the couple is likely to encounter in the future.
The prenuptial contract can be as plain or as detailed as the couple needs it to be. Some couples decide to draw up prenuptial agreements about specific aspects of their marriage, such as a spouse’s separately owned business or child custody in the event of divorce. Other couples develop expansive prenuptial contracts that detail all of their rights and responsibilities in great detail with long lists of exclusionary clauses, disclaimers, and exceptions worked into their contracts. As long as the prenuptial contract has been professionally drafted by an attorney and thoroughly reviewed for completeness, the prenuptial agreement can essentially cover anything the marrying couple wants it to cover.
Why Detail Is So Crucial in Prenuptial Contracts
When it comes to any type of contract between private parties, enforceability is crucial. The contract must be properly drafted under the guidance of a legal professional, checked and re-checked for accuracy and completeness, and include room for alterations in the future, such as a clause that outlines the process of contesting, adjusting, or modifying the terms of the contract in light of future life events.
An experienced family law attorney can help a marrying couple draft a comprehensive prenuptial agreement that includes as much detail as is reasonably possible. This can seem cold considering the romantic atmosphere marriage is supposed to have. Sitting with a lawyer and discussing all the possible ways your marriage could go wrong does not seem like a positive experience. However, the more effort the couple puts into their prenuptial agreement, the more reliable and enforceable the agreement becomes.
Prenuptial agreements tend to carry negative connotations because, to many, they imply a lack of faith that a marriage will last. However, uncertainty is bound to arise in any marriage, no matter how strong the couple’s bond may be. A prenuptial agreement can offer the spouses peace of mind in uncertainty. It may bring some couples closer together. The process of sitting down and formally discussing how you would like to handle your marriage’s potential end can help a couple communicate on a deeper level. Discussing their worries and fears can clear the air and establish greater certainty for their future together. The prenuptial agreement drafting process can help both spouses enter their marriage with greater confidence knowing each others’ hopes and intentions.
Adjusting Your Prenuptial Agreement
Perhaps you and your spouse never intended to have children but changed your minds after a few years of marriage. One or both of you may have experienced substantial professional success and now own vastly more property than you did when you first got married. Things can change in surprising ways as a marriage endures. You may need to revisit your existing prenuptial agreement eventually.
The parties who have signed the prenuptial agreement may have already included a system in their contract for adjustment and modification, or they may need to consult their attorney to determine the best way to alter their prenuptial agreement. Whatever the case may be, all parties must agree to the change for any change to occur to the wording of a prenuptial agreement.
Unenforceable Prenuptial Agreements
Unfortunately, some prenuptial agreements are rendered unenforceable due to illegal or deceptive actions. For example, a prenuptial agreement signed under duress is not legally binding, nor would a prenuptial agreement that was signed in an illegal marriage. If you have concerns about the enforceability of your prenuptial agreement, call our firm. It is a wise idea to have an experienced family law attorney review your prenuptial agreement to determine whether it is legally sound and enforceable. If not, the prenuptial agreement may not provide the protection you expect, or you may not be subject to the terms and conditions included in an unenforceable contract.
It’s also possible for a prenuptial agreement to be unenforceable if one of the signing parties did not have complete and accurate information at the time of signing. If one of the signing parties hid crucial details and information from the other, the prenuptial agreement is null and void. Additionally, a prenuptial agreement cannot be signed on unconscionable grounds and must be fair and reasonable to all signing parties.
Work With an Experienced Attorney
Developing a prenuptial agreement can be an important step toward protecting your marriage in the future. You and your spouse will know each others’ priorities and expectations for the marriage and can enter into your marriage with confidence and peace of mind. Working with the right attorney ensures your prenuptial contract is as comprehensive and dynamic as possible. An experienced Springfield, MO family law attorney can help you develop a solid prenuptial agreement that provides the security you need.