As you and your beloved plan your wedding, you likely are caught up in venues, guest lists, dresses, cakes and all the other things that go along with planning a wedding and reception. But in all this happy frenzy, you would do well to also remember to think about post-wedding issues, including the possibility of an eventual divorce.
Naturally the two of you intend to be married ’til death do you part or you would not be getting married in the first place. However, given that the U.S. divorce rate has remained steady at approximately 50 percent for over 30 years, it is obvious that a good number of couples do not live out this happily ever after story. Should you and your intended become one of these statistics, entering into a prenuptial agreement now could save you innumerable future headaches and heartaches.
As implied by its name, a prenuptial agreement is one that you and your future spouse draft and sign prior to your marriage, i.e., your nuptials. Do not succumb to the two main misconceptions about prenups: that they are only for wealthy people and that they indicate that at least one member of the couple does not trust the other. A prenup can protect any property and assets you own now during an eventual divorce, whether they amount to $1,000 or $1 million. This can become especially important if you have children from a previous relationship.
In addition, rather than indicating a lack of trust, a prenup indicates just the opposite. It shows that you and your intended are two mature people who care for each other enough to make sure you both have your financial houses in order before you begin sharing your lives.
Common prenup provisions
Your prenuptial agreement can be as short or as long as you wish and can contain whatever you wish as long as it relates to financial issues. Many couples include such things as the following:
- A provision that in the event of a divorce, the property and assets that each of you now owns will remain that person’s separate property
- A provision as to how the two of you intend to divide your marital property in the event of a divorce
- A provision as to how the two of you wish to treat your respective credit cards and other separate debts
- A provision as to how the two of you wish to treat your respective retirement accounts, including your 401(k)s
- A provision, if applicable, as to how each of you will provide for your children from a previous relationship
- A provision, if applicable, as to how the two of you will own and operate any joint business you already own together or establish during your marriage
Remember, your prenuptial agreement must deal only with financial matters, not personal matters. For instance, it cannot contain things such as the following:
- Where you will live
- How you will rear and educate your children
- The division of household chores
- Where and with whom you will spend vacations or holidays
Be sure to keep the original of your prenuptial agreement in a safe place, possibly in your attorney’s office, so that it will be available if and when you need it in the future.