Talking About (and Then Crafting) a Prenuptial Agreement

When a couple decides to get married, it’s a joyous occasion, a declaration of love, and an occasion for friends and family to get excited. But it’s also a time in which each person entering the marriage needs to think about his or her finances. Marriage is a legal arrangement involving a great number of financial issues, and ending the legal arrangement with a divorce has the potential for costly and contentious litigation ? regardless of how in love a couple is at the outset of their marriage.

If you’re interested in crafting a prenuptial agreement, be honest and upfront with your spouse-to-be. It’s a way to ensure fairness and to reduce conflict and court battles should the marriage end, and it allows you to talk about financial goals as you plan the wedding.

It’s also a way for the wealthier person going into a marriage to make provisions for his or her partner that fall outside of what a divorce settlement normally calls for. For example, after a divorce, a person may not be entitled to his or her ex’s life insurance policy, but a prenuptial agreement could call for that exception to a standard rule, just by being included in the document and having both spouses sign off on it.

Recently, I worked on an agreement where a man agreed to give his wife-to-be $100,000 from a trust should he die or should they get divorced. It’s a trust that she’d have no claims on without the prenuptial agreement, but because they felt that it was worth including based upon their understanding of what was fair, it became part of the agreement.

The prenuptial agreement is evolving more and more into a tool that couples can use to personalize their marriages. While couples don’t enter into marriages planning to get divorced, prenuptial agreements help couples take a creative, less confrontational approach to divorce than what’s afforded to them in traditional courtroom divorce.

If you come to my office whether you’re looking to craft a prenuptial agreement or to work through a divorce you won’t get a cookie-cutter solution. You’ll get a solution that is customized for your situation, addressing your individual needs, while avoiding costly litigation in the process.

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