The topic of prenuptial agreements can be somewhat awkward to discuss, especially for those in committed and loving relationships. These agreements are often mistakenly perceived by many, as reducing the institution of marriage to a business relationship bound by strict contractual obligations on both parties. Such perceptions can be hard to overcome.
Even so, prenuptial agreements can be invaluable in certain circumstances and may actually contribute to stronger, more trusted marital relationships in the right contexts.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (or a prenup, as it is more commonly referred to), is an agreement that typically covers the financial implications of an ended marriage. It basically spells out the financial obligations of both the husband and the wife in the event they decide to mutually end their married relationship.
A prenuptial contract clearly describes how the two sides will split their financial assets, their physical assets and their financial obligations and liabilities if the marriage ends in a divorce.
Each state, of course, has its own set of divorce laws that cover many of these same issues. However, quite often couples find that such laws are too generic for their situations and prefer drawing up a more customized prenuptial contract for their specific requirements.
When is a Prenuptial Agreement a Logical Option?
There are certain situations in which a prenuptial agreement is more necessary than others. For instance, if one partner is significantly wealthier than the other, a prenuptial contract can ensure that the marriage is not being motivated by money.
Similarly, if one partner earns a lot more than the other, a prenuptial agreement can be used to limit child support or other payments. Sometimes, individuals who are remarrying use such contracts to ensure that children from the current marriage and those from the previous one get their fair share of any inheritances that might need to be distributed upon that individual’s passing.
These are not the only situations in which marriage contracts make sense. Situations in which one partner has a high debt load, or where one spouse may be part-owner of a business for instance, also can benefit from a prenup.
Do Prenuptial Agreements Have Limitations?
As with any contract, prenuptial agreements to have their limitations. For instance, such contracts are not enforceable when it comes to issues such as child custody or child visitation.
Nor can they address issues such as which religion the child should be raised in. Several states also allow courts to invalidate agreements relating to issues such as alimony or division of household duties if the court feels that the contract unfairly favors one spouse over the other.