Prenuptial Agreements Increasing In Popularity

By Staff Writer

A product of our increasingly pessimistic age, prenuptial agreements are becoming more common. Due in large part to media coverage of celebrity divorces, it is rare to find someone who is not familiar with the basic concept of prenuptial agreements. In essence, a prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into between an engaged couple that will govern the division of their assets, debts and other matters in the event of a divorce. Once entered into, a prenuptial agreement is a legal contract and, unless successfully challenged, will be binding upon the parties in the event of a divorce. The laws pertaining to vacating contracts are typically incredibly stringent. You should never assume that you will be able to get out of a prenuptial agreement or any other type of contract.

There are two main types of these "marriage contracts": prenuptial agreements, which are entered into before the marriage and antenuptial agreements which are entered into after the actual wedding. The advantages to these types of agreements are many. In divorce cases, emotions can run high and people can find themselves guided by emotion rather than reason. Legal fees can rapidly mount when emotions run ramped. If the terms of a settlement are negotiated before the onset of marital difficulties, the fairness of the resolution can more accurately be weighed and parties will likely save thousands of dollars in legal fees.

If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé, you should first be apprized of your rights and responsibilities under the laws of your state. Because parties are free to enter into contracts, parties can, and routinely do, provide for a resolution of relevant issues in a manner different from what a Court would order in the event of a divorce. A discussion of your state’s laws, however, will help you gage the fairness of the agreement’s terms.

Most attorneys consider it an ethical conflict to represent both parties to a prenuptial agreement. Regardless of this fact, you and your fiancé should each retain your own attorneys. Your individual attorneys will be able to separately counsel you regarding the terms of the agreement and ensure that your legal rights are protected in the eventual contract.

Settlement negotiations take time. Before the agreement can even be drafted, it will be necessary to reach an agreement on all of its terms and provisions. Because of the delays which may occur in reaching an agreement on the terms and actually signing the prenuptial agreement, you must allow sufficient time to complete this process. Waiting until the eve of your wedding to begin the process will only increase the pressure which you are under and create the possibility that the agreement cannot be completed in time. A document with such long term ramifications should never be rushed. It is crucial that you be assured of the fairness of your prenuptial agreement and understand all of its terms and provisions before it is signed.