In today’s society, with divorce being so prevalent, the need to consider the Pre-Marital or Pre-Nuptial Agreement is more and more relevant. The “psychological hurdle” I mention is the responsive comment, by an intended spouse, to the suggestion that the other party to the future marriage wishes to have a Pre-Marital Agreement drafted. What is often heard in response is:
“I thought you loved me.”
“Don’t you trust me?”
“I would never take your property if we got divorced.”
The need for a Pre-Nuptial Agreement has nothing to do with the emotions of love or the presence or absence of trust. It has to do with a simple, and also complex, reality of life: Divorce is prevalent. The vast majority of people getting married certainly don’t think they will get divorced. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement, if one or both parties have assets which they are bringing into the marriage, simply makes sense. Some of the more common reasons to get a Pre-Nuptial Agreement are:
One party has more property than the other party: Deciding before you are married how one’s pre-marital property is going to be handled in the event of a divorce makes perfect sense. It also saves a lot of money in legal fees if a divorce occurs.
One party has higher income than the other party: Discussing how income generated during the marriage is to be handled can be the subject of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. Spousal support and alimony questions can also be resolved before the marriage. Also, child support can be considered at this time.
One party comes into a marriage with significant debt: With the prevalence of student loans and the ease of obtaining credit cards, it is not uncommon that one party has more significant debt than the other.
A Pre-Marital Agreement simply forces the couple to evaluate and discuss their finances: In order for a Pre-Marital Agreement to be valid in Pennsylvania, both parties must make “full and fair disclosure” of their assets and liabilities. This can be a helpful tool in assisting the parties in obtaining full disclosure of each of their financial pictures.
One party owns a business: This is a very common reason to investigate the necessity of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. Having to sell a business because of a divorce may be a harsh penalty, especially if the business grew and developed before marriage. A Pre-Nuptial Agreement can provide for an orderly transition in the event of a divorce.
It is important to consult with a good family lawyer. There are certainly other reasons that parties might need a Pre-Nuptial Agreement. Don’t wait until several weeks before the wedding date to begin this process. This process should start many months before the wedding. In that way, the document can be negotiated, signed and put away long before the date of marriage, so the parties are not negotiating this document as the wedding day approaches.