Marital and Family Law

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements, also referred to as Antenuptial Agreements, tend to carry with them a negative connotation. However, if negotiated in good faith, they are truly intended to avoid emotionally and financially costly litigation in the event a marriage ends in divorce. In our experience, prenuptial agreements are particularly desirable by people that have been through a difficult divorce litigation and may be considering a subsequent marriage. In other instances, we often have seen people employ prenuptial agreements to protect family inheritances or other substantial assets that they acquired prior to their marriage, as well as to protect assets for the benefit of their children from a prior marriage.

In general terms, a prenuptial agreement is a contract that governs all property division and spousal support (alimony) matters between two parties in the event of a divorce. After comprehensive financial disclosure between the parties, they first agree on what property will remain each individual’s separate property and what property will be subject to equal division as marital property. They then agree on what, if any, alimony will be paid by one party to the other. As a matter of firm policy, we require our clients to engage in a detailed and comprehensive financial disclosure process in which they disclose to their intended spouse all of their assets, debts and income prior to the signing of any agreement. This is one of several ways in which we protect our clients from a future challenge to the validity or enforceability of the agreement.

Prenuptial agreements cannot be used to resolve parenting, timesharing and child support matters. By law, these matters must be addressed at the time a divorce action occurs, based on the then current circumstances of the parties.

When prenuptial agreements are approached with openness, honesty and good faith, they can be a very effective tool for negotiating and resolving complicated issues at a time when the parties are not undergoing an emotional crisis and are perhaps best able to make sounds business decisions.

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