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Why a Prenuptial Agreement is Something to be Thankful For

on Nov 23, 2017 in Divorce

Many people think a prenuptial agreement is an acknowledgement, before the marriage even gets started, that the marriage is doomed to end in divorce.  These people probably aren’t people who have dealt with the pain of a divorce.  In the worst cases, divorce can require complex and drawn out litigation, fighting about every piece of property, every possession, every minute of parenting time, and every penny of alimony.  A prenuptial agreement can prevent nearly all litigation.  This saves time, emotional investment, and, frankly, sizable attorney’s fees.

Prenuptial Agreements Provide Clarity

Couples with prenuptial agreements don’t have to worry about the uncertainty of whether alimony will be awarded, or in what amounts.  Alimony is one of many things that can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement.  If the couple believes alimony is important, they can certainly agree alimony will be paid.  A prenuptial agreement can also address the amount of alimony, and who will pay it.  Or they can agree neither party pays or recieves alimony in the event of divorce.  Resolving this issue in the beginning, regardless of how the issue resolves, provides clarity to both parties going forward.

Prenuptial Agreements Provide Peace of Mind Everyone Can Be Thankful For

While you and your beloved may be absolutely convinced your union will last forever (and it very well may), it is possible family members are concerned about the alternative.  As a general rule, the family’s opinion of your union is not relevant.  However, there may be circumstances where they feel their concerns are relevant.  Particularly when there is a family business, family members frequently express concern about how a divorce impacts ownership of the family business.

Couples who enter into a marriage where one half of the couple has an interest in a family business can use a prenuptial agreement to clearly define the other spouse’s interest – or lack thereof, in the family business.  If the couple agrees that the new spouse will have some vested interest in the family business, a prenuptial agreement can clearly define the extent of the interest.   This provides peace of mind.

If one party to the marriage has a piece of property, handed down for the last three generations, the family may feel particularly protective of that property.  Understandably so.  A prenuptial agreement can specifically address what happens to the property in the event of a divorce.  Identifying property allocation in the prenuptial agreement removes property divsion from consideration by a court later, should the couple divorce.

Prenuptial Agreements Save Time

You both come into the marriage with possessions.  These probably include household basics, such as sheets and towels, china, stemware, etc.  One or both of you may own property, such as a home, beach house, or timeshare.  During your married life, you will probably continue to acquire both real and personal property.  Some divorcing couples are intent on litigating every single issue.  They can spend countless hours and hundreds of dollars fighting about who’s grandmother’s china is in the china hutch.  Next, one party argues the china hutch should go to the same party who got the china.  The other party spends their time arguing an equitable division of property mandates the china go to one party while the china hutch goes to the other.

Alternatively, a prenuptial agreement could address property division.  When the prenuptial agreement addresses the division of personal property, this prevents property division from becoming an expensive litigation issue later.   Similarly, if one of you owns property such as a beach house, vacation home, or personal residence, prenuptial agreements can address this in any number of ways.  Family law attorneys customize prenuptial agreements for each couple’s situation.  There is no one simple formula for prenuptial agreements.  As the parties to the agreement, the couple gets to decide how they want the property divided, should they later divorce.

Prenuptial Agreements Provide Parameters

While prenuptial agreements are useful should the parties divorce, there are other productive uses for a prenuptial agreement.  For example, a prenuptial agreement can declare which religion you agree to raise your children in.  You can use a prenuptial agreement to address your savings and retirement plans.  You can also include an agreement to maintain mutual life insurance policies in a certain amount.  Alternatively, you may wish to use a prenuptial agreement to address graduate school.  Will one person work while the other attends graduate school?  And, if so, will the roles reverse once one has graduated?  Have you thought about the debt that comes with graduate school loans?  You can use a prenuptial agreement to determine how you will handle debt.  This includes both current debt and debt you anticipate incurring based on pursuing a graduate degree.

Already Married?  It’s Not Too Late!

If you find yourself wishing you had obtained a prenuptial agreement, it’s not too late.  You can draft a postnuptial agreement.  A postnuptial agreement, like a prenuptial agreement, is a contract.  The contract governs certain terms of the marriage, and common divorce issues in the event of a divorce.

If You Need a Prenuptial Agreement or a Postnuptial Agreement

If you need a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, contact the office of Fait & DiLima.  At Fait & DiLIma, we have over 50 years of combined family law experience.  We have seen the damage that can be done when there is no prenuptial agreement and the parties are determined to litigate everything.   We can take our experience and use it to craft a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement for you.  Our experience and observations in other family law cases provide you with information so you won’t end up in the same litigious boat.  Contact us to discuss your case today.   We have offices in Frederick and Rockville, MD to serve your needs.