Many Americans misunderstand the purpose of a prenuptial agreement. This crucial legal document has a somewhat shaky reputation. Some people believe that a prenuptial agreement is essentially a guide to future divorce and the suggestion of creating a prenuptial agreement indicates a lack of faith in the marriage. While it is true that a prenuptial agreement can include a clause containing postnuptial rules if the couple decides to divorce, many more valuable benefits come with drafting a solid prenuptial agreement.
The truth about prenuptial agreements is that they can provide confidence and peace of mind to a couple about to marry and encourage them to have difficult conversations, particularly concerning topics commonly overlooked by many newlyweds. Prenuptial agreements can limit uncertainty, make expectations clear between spouses, and foster healthy communication early in a marriage. In fact, many couples who draft prenuptial agreements find that the process of negotiating these agreements brought them closer together.
What Does a Prenuptial Agreement Include?
If you and your fiancée decide to draft a prenuptial agreement, it is ultimately up to the two of you to determine what to include. Some of the most commonly drafted provisions in Springfield, MO prenuptial agreements include:
- Property ownership rights. Prenuptial agreements are especially valuable for individuals who own substantial wealth and assets. The prenuptial contract allows them to ensure their separate property remains their separate property in the event of divorce.
- Inheritance rights. If you have children from a prior marriage, inheritance obviously becomes more complex. Your prenuptial contract can include specific rules to ensure your existing children retain their inheritance rights if you and your new spouse decide to have more children.
- Business provisions. If you own a business, your business assets and profits could potentially become marital property if you do not take steps to ensure you retain full ownership rights in the event of divorce. An experienced Springfield, MO family law attorney can help you ensure your business is protected in the event of a future divorce.
- Financial responsibilities to the marriage. Prenuptial contracts can outline each spouse’s rights and responsibilities during the marriage, including who is responsible for paying bills, savings account contributions, retirement account contributions, and much more.
- Tax-related issues. It is not uncommon for a marriage to have significant tax implications for one or both spouses. If they decide to split up at any point, these tax issues can compound significantly.
- Postnuptial agreements. A prenuptial contract can include a postnuptial clause that dictates what will happen if the couple decides to divorce in the future. While this element cannot completely dictate how a divorce will proceed, it can provide guidance and significantly reduce the time required for divorce proceedings to conclude.
An experienced Springfield, MO family law attorney can help their client draft a comprehensive prenuptial agreement that aligns with applicable state laws and provides the marrying couple with the financial peace of mind they need.
What Cannot Be Included in a Prenuptial Contact?
The main benefit of creating a prenuptial agreement is having a firm set of legally binding rules for your marriage that offer both you and your spouse peace of mind. However, there are some things that cannot be included in a prenuptial contract. If certain elements are found within a prenuptial contract, the entire contract could be legally unenforceable.
One example of something that cannot be included in a prenuptial contract is any provision that involves illegal activity. The inclusion of any terms and conditions pertaining to illegal activities can be enough to have the entire prenuptial contract rendered unenforceable. Additionally, the prenuptial agreement must be signed by both parties in a legal manner, meaning both parties must be of legal age and of sound mind when they sign it. There can be no presence of duress or coercion that compelled either party to sign.
A prenuptial agreement can provide a solid foundation for streamlined property division proceedings and make the dissolution process easier in this respect. However, keep in mind that it cannot contain any rules or provisions concerning child custody or child support. These determinations must meet the state’s definition of aligning with the best interests of the couple’s children. The divorcing couple can privately mediate their divorce and develop a parenting plan specifically tailored to their family’s needs. However, they must submit it to a Springfield, MO family court judge for review and approval before it can become legally binding.
Your Prenuptial Agreement Provides Security and Peace of Mind
When you and your fiancée decide to draft a prenuptial agreement, it will be necessary to have detailed, honest conversations about your expectations and goals for your marriage. Many people do not realize that while the process of developing a prenuptial agreement can be challenging, doing so before marriage and learning each other’s true feelings is much better than discovering significant incompatibility after a couple has been married for some time.
The financial rules and responsibilities set forth by a prenuptial agreement allow the couple to make more informed decisions during their marriage. They can also reduce the chances of arguments and tension caused by financial problems and disagreements that often arise within marriages.
Can I Create a Prenuptial Agreement Without an Attorney?
While it is technically possible for you and your fiancée to draft a prenuptial agreement on your own that aligns with your personal goals and expectations, it is not a wise choice. Your prenuptial agreement must include several legal provisions that the average person may not know to consider. It may be worth drafting your own prenuptial agreement before taking it to a Springfield, MO family law attorney for their professional guidance. A good attorney can help you and your fiancée fine-tune your prenuptial agreement to ensure that it not only meets your goals, expectations, and needs but also aligns with applicable federal and state laws. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you are planning on getting married in Springfield, MO in the near future. Consider the value a solidly constructed prenuptial contract could provide to your new marriage.