This scene is a staple of daytime soap operas: a divorcing couple sits in a lawyer's office bickering over their possessions. She wants the house. He wants the car. Neither is satisfied. After a long, heated discussion, nothing is resolved - the only outcomes from the meeting are bitterness and uncertainty.
In real life, it doesn't have to be that way. A thoughtful, well-crafted pre-nuptial agreement can ensure that if a couple goes their separate ways, they have a satisfactory - even amicable - result that helps them make a fresh start.
What Is A Pre-Nup?
A pre-nuptial agreement ("pre-nup") is a written contract created by two people before they are married. Typically, a pre-nup lists property each person owns (as well as debts) and specifies their property rights within the marriage. It's important that there is full disclosure of assets and liabilities and the agreement is entered into freely and voluntarily.
A pre-nup also serves as a guide for avoiding litigation in case the marriage ends in divorce or there is a death. Contrary to popular opinion, pre-nups aren't just for the rich - couples of modest means can benefit from a pre-nup as well.
Reasons For A Pre-Nup
Here are some specific reasons for establishing a pre-nup:
· To clarify financial rights - Couples with or without children, wealthy or not, may want to establish their financial rights and responsibilities within their marriage.
· To avoid arguments in case of divorce - This is achieved by specifying in advance how property will be divided, and whether or not a spouse will receive alimony.
· To get protection from debts - Pre-nups can be include agreements that prevent spouses from being burdened by each other's debts.
· To protect children from previous relationships - Pre-nups can protect assets intended to provide for the care and education of your children from a prior relationship.
The Successful Pre-Nup
To be successful, a pre-nup must be accurate, detailed, and acceptable to both sides; nothing can be wrongfully included or excluded. The agreement shouldn't be entered into casually - it's an important bridge that couples can use to cross over into their future lives.
In a good pre-nuptial agreement, provisions mandate that as situations change, the agreement can be reviewed and revised. There can also be a sunset clause stating that after a predetermined number of years of marriage, the agreement is deemed null and void.
A Pre-Nup Can Prevent A Breakup
A conversation between partners about dividing their assets can be uncomfortable, but couples should understand that it's not a judgment of their past, but a practical discussion about their future. It's best to take some time, put emotions aside, and think clearly about what is best for each partner. Couples might find that the discussion and forethought put into a pre-nup makes the relationship stronger and can prevent a break-up.
A pre-nup can establish the peace of mind that comes with having a fair agreement in place. The best way to achieve this is to hire an attorney who is experienced in Family Law, especially in negotiating and drafting pre-nuptial agreements.