What Is A Prenuptial Agreement - And Who Needs One?

 By: Melissa Gordon
A prenuptial agreement is essentially a legally binding agreement made before a couple gets married or enters into a civil partnership. The agreement deals with what should happen to assets of the couple in the event of divorce, though various additions can also be made including provisions and recommendations for alimony and the division of property. Prenuptial contracts often go by alternate names, such as ante nuptial agreements or premarital agreements; however, the usage is the same.

The popularity of prenuptial agreements has increased since the turn of the 21st century, though they were not unheard of before then. This is attributed by lawyers to an increase in media coverage of high profile divorces, which often sees as exceedingly wealthy individual divorcing someone of lesser means – and being forced to sacrifice up to half of their fortune.

A prenuptial agreement is recognized by all 50 states of the America, though they are not always followed verbatim. Often, discretion is required in cases where wealth and income has increased – or significantly decreased – between the time of the agreement and the time of the divorce. A prenuptial agreement can be appealed against if the party that stands to lose out is unhappy, though just cause must be given for doing so. American courts tend to uphold and recognize prenuptial agreements as they are, but it is worth remembering that these agreements are not a final line. It is possible for either party to challenge a prenuptial. Recently, Stephen Spielberg's wife did just that during their high profile (and acrimonious) divorce. She was successful in this attempt, and walked away with a settlement of over $50 million.

The vast majority of legal experts recommend that a prenuptial agreement take place if one or both parties entering into the marriage are sufficiently wealthy or have prior property and assets. Another good reason for a prenuptial is if the woman of the partnership is to leave work so as to raise the couple’s children; in the event of divorce, she may be left with a long fight for alimony without a prenuptial agreement to ensure continued support until the child is 18. Some couples prefer to agree that the wife should return to work if the marriage dissolves, while others agree on a continued support payment system until the child or children are of age. These are differing issues that are resolved in prenuptials.

The whole point of a prenuptial is to resolve difficult issues during good times, as inevitably with a divorce comes recriminations and issues become all the more important. Prenuptials are designed to allow couples, honestly and rationality, to set a provision for the future when they are not also trying to deal with the issues presented by a difficult divorce case. In situations of adultery, a prenuptial agreement becomes all the more important, as fur is far more likely to fly in these cases.

No one who is about to be married wants to talk about the possibility of divorce, but solving these matters in the present could help prevent great distress and upset in the future.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
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