Seeing a lawyer before you say "I do" is probably not high on your list of things to do, but it should be. After all, marriage is a legal act and should require something more than just a framed certificate. You and your fiance can help smooth the way for a better financial future by deciding on some major issues before you tie the knot, and having them put down on paper to seal the deal. Read on to learn more about what goes into a prenuptial agreement and what should not.
What goes into the prenuptial agreement.
As a legal concept, prenuptial agreements are somewhat new, and therefore the contents of these agreements are largely left up to the couple. While there are very few real rules about what goes in one, you should keep in mind that these agreements should be well-crafted in order to stand up in court, should the need arise. It's best to stick to financial issues only for your agreement, such as:
Property: If one party enters the marriage already owning property, that property should be listed on the agreement. In most situations, property owned by one party prior to the marriage is not considered marital property in the event of a divorce. Property can be made of anything from a home, a car, artwork, a pet and more. Be sure to discuss the sticky issue of co-mingling when it comes to who owns what property with your attorney, since this could muddy the waters on what constitutes marital property.
Debt: This issue is treated similarly to the way property is treated, in that debt held going into the marriage belongs to that person only. Just like property, you can also co-mingle financial obligations, however. Be sure your prenuptial agreement contains a listing of all debts for each person and that you understand how to avoid co-mingling that debt
Budgeting: Don't wait until the first power bill arrives to decide how your bills gets paid. Working this out ahead of time can save you a lot of frustration later on. You can divide up bills based on income or split evenly.
Savings: You can go ahead and make some important decisions on how your savings accounts can be funded. Consider retirement, education (college for kids), home down payments, emergency cash and more.
What should not go into your prenuptial agreement.
Children and divorce: If it involves a decision best left to family court, leave it out. How minor children are treated when it comes to child custody, child support and visitation should never be addressed in this type of agreement.
Spousal support (alimony): The inclusion of this issue varies from state to state, so check with your attorney for more information.
Minor Non-financial Issues: Names for future children, what type of pet you will get, what town you will live in, who does the laundry, etc are just some examples of miscellaneous issues that have no place in this type of agreement. You can, and should, agree on these issues, but use your own forms and don't file it with the courts. For more information, contact a business such as Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner, LLP.