When you are in love and planning to marry a special person, your future together seems limitless and premarital planning is often overlooked. Unfortunately, the reality of life and relationships is that not everything lasts. Almost one in two marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Often, the divorce process is nasty and prolonged. Other times, separating is the right thing to do for the parties involved and an amicable split is possible. Planning for the possibility of a divorce, no matter how remote that possibility may seem, can prove a very responsible action – often saving heartache. Our premarital planning attorneys possess the sensitivity and experience necessary to guide you through the premarital planning process. We have helped hundreds of couples with prenuptial agreements and are ready to help you and your partner.
You have probably heard of a prenuptial agreement or the more colloquial term “pre-nup.” Prenuptial agreements are not appropriate for every potential marriage. A prenuptial agreement is to avoid future hassles during a divorce. To accomplish this, parties voluntarily agree to terms regarding property division or family living arrangements before marriage. Therefore, it is illogical to draft a prenuptial agreement when both parties to a marriage have little to no property and no existing children coming into a marriage. But a prenuptial agreement is highly advisable when one or both parties to a marriage have significant property, or a blended family is created through marriage.
Marriage is a contract between two individuals. A marriage between individuals who already have valuable assets should have the terms if the contract is breached. This planning allows the focus to shift away from who or what caused a divorce and toward efficiently resolving a divorce by establishing: (1) who came into the marriage with what assets, (2) what a reasonable property and asset division might look like, and (3) how all parties to the marriage, including pre-existing children, are taken care of if a divorce occurs. In this sense, a prenuptial agreement is really a thoughtful expression of love between the individuals getting married.
As an ancillary benefit, drafting a prenuptial agreement can help both individuals understand the underlying motivations of their future spouse –especially if there is a significant discrepancy in net-worth. Remember, two individuals who may seem to make similar salaries may have vast differences in their amount of personal debt. This creates a significant net-worth discrepancy, which should not come as an unpleasant surprise after a couple is married. Understanding the full financial picture, along with how each potential spouse envisions the term of a prenuptial agreement, can helpfully inform each party. You cannot predict why a great marriage might end in divorce, but you can prepare in a responsible manner.
A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement executed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple’s affairs and assets if a separation occurs or divorce. Like the contents of a prenuptial agreement, provisions commonly include division of property and spousal support if divorce occurs, death of one spouse, or breakup of marriage.
Marriages do not always last, but your peace of mind should. To discuss drafting a pre or postnuptial agreement, schedule an appointment with us at one of our office locations in Columbia, Rockville, D.C., Tysons, or McLean, VA.