Is A Prenuptial Agreement Right For You?

Being engaged is an exciting time, filled with plenty of tasks that must be completed before the big day. One important task that should not be overlooked is the creation of a prenuptial agreement. This legal document serves several vital functions and must be complete prior to your wedding day, so read on to learn more about its importance and what you should include.

What should go into a prenuptial agreement?

These agreements, unlike a divorce decree or other legal documents, have very few legal requirements and provisions. One caveat to keep in mind while forming your agreement is the need to focus on financial issues. The main issues that make up the agreement are left up to you and your fiance for the most part, however. You should seriously consider including some of these issues:

1. Debt: Who owes what to who and who will be responsible for paying that debt after the wedding day.

2. Property: Who owns what and who will retain sole ownership of that property after marriage and what property will becomes co-owned.

3. Provisions for debt and property upon the (unlikely) event of a divorce.

4. Provisions for a child of a previous relationship to inherit property after death. While a prenuptial agreement is not a substitute for a will or a trust, a signed agreement could be used in court in the event of a challenge to the will.

5. An allocation of household debt and who is responsible for paying what bills.

6. Stipulations about savings, retirement and education funds.

What should not go into the prenuptial agreement.

While the legal strictures on these documents are flexible, you should steer clear of including the following issues and ensure that the agreement doesn't stray from primarily financial issues. While the specter of an acrimonious divorce is likely the very last thing on your mind at this time, you may end up being relieved that your agreement meets the legal standard and is not filled with useless provisions. The easier and clearer your agreement, the more likely it will stand up in court.

Coercion: Ensure that both of you are in complete agreement on every provision. Courts won't honor agreements where one party was forced or threatened in any manner.

Minor Children: Take care not to include provisions that address child custody, child support or visitation. These issues should be left for the separation and/or divorce agreement.

Alimony: The inclusion of this issue varies by state so consult with your family law attorney.

Assets: Ensure that you both are forthright about your assets; hiding assets is not only a poor way to start a marriage but could cause even more problems if they are left off the agreement.

Fairness: The courts will "throw out" a prenuptial agreement that is grossly unfair to one party.

Speak with your family law attorney for more guidance on your prenuptial agreement.