Recent research indicates a steady rise in the number of couples who are signing prenuptial marriage agreements before they marry. In fact, since 2002, the percentage of couples who sign premarital agreements has actually tripled. The Harris Interactive poll cited by USA Today found that roughly 30 percent of single adults say they would ask a potential spouse to sign a premarital agreement.
A premarital agreement is a signed and notarized contract that spells out how a couple will handle certain financial aspects of their marriage. Having an honest financial discussion prior to a wedding ceremony is a responsible, intelligent exercise. Most premarital agreements address financial issues such as real estate, division of bank accounts and potential spousal support in the case of divorce or separation.
In most marriages, there are three estates: the husband's separate estate, the wife's separate estate, and the community estate. Earnings during a marriage are generally part of the community estate. Couples intending to marry, or married couples, may agree with great specificity what property is to be separate and what property is to be community.
The premarital agreement may also provide whether earnings will be separate or community. These agreements permit parties to have great flexibility in deciding precisely how they wish to arrange their finances and have confidence that the agreement will be enforceable.
Advantages of Premarital Agreements
Except for force or fraud, these agreements are enforceable. A premarital agreement does not mean that a couple is anticipating a divorce in the future. It is often simply a way to preserve family ties, inheritance, and the financial well-being of children from a previous marriage. It is also a way to preserve business assets that were accumulated before your marriage.
A premarital agreement also defines financial expectations prior to the marriage. A premarital agreement is an excellent way to minimize disagreements over assets in the future.
Disadvantages of Premarital Agreements
Although you, your fiance and your attorney may view a premarital agreement as a way to responsibly organize your finances prior to marriage, a premarital agreement may give the appearance that there is a lack of trust or a lack of life-time commitment.
Premarital agreements are also not enforceable regarding custody of children or child support.
To receive sound legal advice regarding a pre-marital agreement, contact Austin attorney Greg Gegenheimer. Greg Gegenheimer is an experienced Austin divorce attorney who is committed to helping men and women with legal counseling, strategic planning and professional representation.
If you find yourself in a family crisis, he can help you better understand your situation and options, formulate a plan of action, and be a powerful advocate on your behalf. He is a certified mediator with an Advanced Certification in Family Law and often is able to help resolve disputes before they go to court. Contact him today at 512-472-7501 to schedule a 30-minute free consultation or go to www.greggegenheimer.net/.