No one expects their marriage to end in divorce, but that is part of the reality of getting married. A significant percentage of couples will eventually head to divorce court due to incompatibility or some kind of serious marital misconduct.
While you may want your marriage to last until one of you dies, it is still smartest to accept the possibility that that may not be the case. Prenuptial agreements are more popular than ever before, and with a much broader range of people. With many families now having two wage earners, it is increasingly common for one or both spouses to want to protect themselves with a prenuptial agreement prior to tying the knot.
What are some of the purposes of drafting a prenuptial agreement?
1. Avoiding a messy divorce
The promises that you make to one another early in your relationship may seem like something from a lifetime ago by the point the two of you start considering divorce. By committing certain ideas to writing before you get married, you can prevent miscommunication or misrepresentation from complicating your divorce and turning it into a drawn-out conflict between the spouses.
Couples that already have a prenuptial agreement in place do not need to litigate but can instead file uncontested divorce proceedings, which tend to be fast and more affordable than going through divorce court.
2. Protecting specific property
Are you halfway through dental school and want to start a professional practice later? Your prenuptial agreement can both protect your spouse from liability for some of your actions during marriage and also protect you from them laying claim to certain assets if you divorce. Designating inherited property and real estate as separate property is a common move in prenuptial agreements.
3. Prohibiting certain behavior
Your agreement can help solidify your expectations for marriage. There are some issues that will be very hard to prove in family court, as well as certain contractual terms that a judge will likely never uphold, such as clauses preventing either spouse from gaining weight during the marriage.
However, clauses imposing penalties for substance abuse, spousal abuse or infidelity are all potentially enforceable and a way to protect one’s house from the misconduct of the other. With the right help, the terms that couples include in their prenuptial agreements will help them start a marriage with a more closely aligned perspective on what the future will bring and may even help the couple reduce the possibility of a future divorce.
Talking about what you expect from marriage and what might happen in a divorce as part of the prenuptial agreement negotiation process can be a smart move for engaged couples.