Once upon a time couples who married stayed married, but that simply is not the case anymore. Divorce has become increasingly common, and because of this, many people now feel it is necessary to protect themselves and their assets from the possibility of their marriage ending in divorce. Prenuptial agreements are one way to do just that. A Prenuptial agreement, sometimes called a prenup, is a contract that outlines what will happen in the case of a divorce. They usually focus on the division of property and assets, and often times outline any alimony or support settlements in the case of divorce.
The stipulations of a prenuptial agreement are unique to each couple. For example, some agreements have further clauses that change settlement amounts if adultery is the cause of the dissolution of the marriage. Prenups can also make arrangements in the event of one’s death rather than in the event of a divorce. Prenups stipulations will depend almost entirely on the couple in question and what they consider valuable as they enter into a marriage.
What are the Requirements for a Prenup?
In the United States a prenuptial agreement is considered valid, and it is recognized in every state, however, not all prenuptial agreements are enforced, and some have found ways to have prenups thrown out or invalidated in court. In order to be considered a valid contract it must meet the following requirements;
- The prenuptial agreement must be written. Oral contracts are not enforceable.
- Both parties must sign the contract voluntarily in front of counsel who can attest that both parties entered into the contract willingly.
- Both parties must be completely informed of the others intentions and assets.
- Both parties must sign the contract in front of a notary for it to be deemed valid.
- The document must be signed prior to the issuing of the marriage license. ‘
Because of the requirements of the contract many agreements have been thrown out or deemed invalid when brought to court. Most commonly, people argue that the prenup was not entered into willingly, or that they were coerced to sign the agreement. Often times one party can also argue that they were not offered full disclosure by the other party at the time of the agreement, thus making it invalid.
When Do Couples Need Prenups?
Some will argue that a prenup is only intended for the very rich or very famous as they are the people who need to protect their assets from a divorce. Well, that’s not exactly the case. Some lawyers argue that every couple should have a prenup. Simply put, divorces are messy. Whether you are going through a divorce a year into the marriage of 15 years into the marriage, you should want to make the process as smooth as possible, and prenups do just that. Not to mention, just because you aren’t rich today, doesn’t mean you won’t be rich someday. Today’s waiter may turn into tomorrow’s best seller, today’s college dropout may turn into tomorrow’s technology tycoon. Fact of the matter is that you never know where you will be or how your marriage will pan out, so it is best to protect yourself at the onset and ensure if your marriage ends it can end amicably, or at least, with the least amount of hassle.