Getting married is theoretically a lifetime commitment, which means that people have to consider the idea carefully. While it may seem romantic to agree in an instant, the truth is that people need to think about how getting married would affect their finances and their personal rights.
In some cases, marriage can put an individual’s most valuable property at risk. It could also make someone partially responsible for their spouse’s poor decisions. An increasing number of engaged couples now embrace the idea of a prenuptial contract drafted before marriage for the protection of both spouses.
How can someone determine whether they might benefit from a prenuptial agreement?
They look at their assets
Does someone recently engaged have valuable personal property that would be at risk should they divorce? Someone who already owns their own home or has started a business likely won’t want to risk those valuable resources if their marriage fails. Prenuptial agreements are popular among those who already have valuable assets to their name prior to getting married.
They look at the statistics
Those who are on a second or third marriage are more likely than others to face divorce. Even first-time marriages have divorce rates that are currently around 40%. Divorce can occur at any point, even when couples have stayed married for years, which is why it is important for people to recognize that they have a significant chance of getting divorced even if they sincerely hope and expect to remain married forever.
They consider their dependents
If someone already has children, getting married can complicate their children’s rights when they die. Spouses often expect to inherit the majority of property from someone’s estate, and state law largely affirms that expectation. If someone wants to designate some of their property specifically for their children in their estate plan, they may also want to include those specific terms in their prenuptial agreement as well.
They worry about behavioral issues
Those who want to marry someone who may have a history of engaging in certain unsafe or unhealthy behaviors may want to have a prenuptial agreement in place to protect themselves from liability or to allow them to make a quick exit without any messy divorce litigation if things start to fall apart.
Recognizing that there are numerous valid reasons to negotiate a prenuptial agreement with a soon-to-be spouse can help people take informed steps to protect themselves before they get married.