Do you need a prenuptial agreement?

Many people entering into a marriage must face a critical question: Do I need a prenuptial agreement? For those on the other side of the equation, the question is: Should I sign one?

A prenuptial agreement may be right for you if:

  • You are bringing significant assets and income into the marriage: When marriages end in divorce, one of the most difficult (and contentious) aspects of the dissolution is the division of marital property. With a well-drafted prenup in place, you can resolve these issues prior to marriage and keep them out of divorce court. This is an especially useful aspect of a prenuptial agreement if there is a significant financial disparity between the spouses.
  • This is not your first marriage: Prenuptial agreements are more common among people who have been through marriage before, perhaps because these people understand how relationships can change over time and have already experienced the perils of divorce. If you have children from another marriage, a prenup is even more attractive. Without a solid prenup in place, your children (and ex-spouse) could be left out of your inheritance.
  • Your soon-to-be spouse has debt problems: Debt issues may not be a deal-breaker in your relationship, but you may want to protect yourself lest you end up becoming responsible for a large share of marital debt incurred by your spouse. Remember, property and debt are divided in a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements can prove controversial as they are often viewed as overly pragmatic and unromantic during an occasion when sentiment should rule. For many, however, they have the opposite effect—resolving nagging financial issues and allowing affianced couples to fully enjoy the occasion. In any event, you should always consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer before establishing or signing a prenup.