5 Myths about prenuptial agreements

There are numerous misconceptions about prenuptial agreements, including their purpose, who should get one, and their value.  Aeschleman Law addresses these myths below to help couples better understand whether a prenuptial agreement is right for them.

Myth No.1: Prenuptial agreements are only for people have a lot of money/assets.

No.  Prenuptial agreements can be for any couple.  The goal of a prenuptial agreement, aside from protecting wealth, is to ensure that in the unfortunate event of a divorce that the couple can pre-determine the resolution of many of the issues. It allows couples the freedom to write their own set of rules, although there are some limitations.  This can help reduce controversy and litigation if there is a divorce, which may be a financial benefit to both parties.

Myth No. 2: Prenuptial agreements are only useful if there is a divorce.

No. Prenuptial agreements are also important when it comes to preserving your wishes as set forth in an estate-planning document.  Without a prenuptial agreement, it is possible that your property upon death will be dealt with differently than how you intended.  A prenuptial agreement can protect from this occurrence.  Additionally, you may wish to clearly outline your expectations for handling money during marriage, i.e., how you will acquire property, whose earnings will be spent for what purposes, etc… A prenuptial agreement allows your to have a written understanding of these expectations so that you and your spouse are on the same page.

Myth No. 3: Only the spouse who will earn money or with assets should get a prenuptial agreement.

No.  As previously discussed, a prenuptial can be used to set forth a couple’s expectations for handling the finances during an intact marriage.  This benefits both spouses.  If there is a divorce, the prenuptial agreement can provide the non-earniing spouse with guaranteed protections that s/he may, otherwise, not receive upon divorce, or may have to spend thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and costs to obtain.  A prenuptial agreement also potentially relieves the parties from  years of struggles to resolve a divorce action; this benefits everyone.

Myth No. 4: Prenuptial agreements are not upheld by the courts.

No. Although there are instances when courts do not uphold a prenuptial agreement, this most often occurs when the rules and guidelines concerning the preparation of prenuptial agreements were not followed.  The rules and guidelines are complex and must be strictly adhered to, often making consultation with an experienced family law attorney necessary to obtain the best chance of having a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement.

Another common reason prenuptial agreements are not upheld is because one party exerts duress and/or coercion on the other party.  Avoidance of this future claim is possible, but again, it is important to seek the consultation of a family law attorney during the preparation of the prenuptial agreement process to ensure any such claim can be readily and easily refuted if made at a later date.

Additionally, it is critical to not that prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court. It will cost time and money to defend against a challenge.  However, if the prenuptial agreement is upheld, the remainder of the case will be simplified, making a prenuptial agreement a wise decision regardless of possible challenges to its validity.

Myth No. 5: Prenuptial agreements are expensive.

No, it is relative. In light of the potential cost and time that it can take to complete a divorce action, the cost of obtaining an attorney to prepare a prenuptial agreement is relatively insignificant.  With a mutual understanding of how the divorce will be handled, you may be able to circumvent much of the struggle that other divorcing couples experience, including the complete breakdown in communication and the distress to the children.