October 22, 2010
By: Kate Haakonsen
A prenuptial agreement or premarital agreement is a contract between fiancés addressing their rights to property and income both during the marriage and in the event that the marriage ends on account of divorce, legal separation, annulment or death. After all, all marriages end with one of those events. Without a prenuptial agreement, Wills, laws and court decisions control what happens when the marriage ends. A prenuptial agreement can grant rights to a spouse or deny them depending on how it is drafted. Here are some basic questions to consider before having a prenuptial agreement drafted:
1. How do you want the property you and your spouse owned before the marriage to be treated when the marriage ends?
2. How do you want property either of you acquires during the marriage to be treated?
3. How do you want income earned by you and your spouse to be treated during the marriage and in case it should end?
4. How do you want debt you have now or debt you may incur during the marriage to be treated?
5. Do you and your fiancé plan to own joint property including a home and bank accounts?
6. Do you and your fiancé expect to have joint debt?
7. If you intend to maintain some property in your name alone, usually called "Separate Property", what should happen to your Separate Property if you should die during the marriage?
8. What should happen to Separate Property if the marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment?
9. Will you or your spouse have the right to claim alimony if the marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment?
10. Should the answer to any of these questions depend on the length of the marriage or the cause of the breakdown?
Once you have considered these questions and have some ideas about what you want your prenuptial agreement to do for you, you are ready to consult with a lawyer about the details and having an agreement drafted. Don't wait until the last minute. It is best if you both have time to consider the terms of your agreement and to have advice from your lawyer before the wedding day.