There are a lot of things to consider if you’ve been married before and want to be married again. Something that can protect you in the future is signing a prenuptial agreement. Most people are aware of the concept, but in short, it’s a legal document written before marriage that specifies the ownership of assets and property rights. It’s most commonly used when one party has children from a previous relationship but there are many reasons to consider one. But what does a prenup protect? Here’s a closer look.
Alimony and Attorney’s Fees
They say once bitten, twice shy. It’s reasonable for you to feel concerned about another divorce after your first marriage ended. And it’s okay to feel that way. To protect yourself further, a prenup can give you and your new partner a buffer.
It can waive the right to alimony and attorney’s fees. Since the award of attorney’s fees essentially gives the other party a right to use someone else’s money to litigate and drag things out, it could save not just money but also time and heartache. Without attorney’s fees in consideration:
- You won’t be liable for it.
- You won’t be in fear of being liable for it, so you can defend yourself without that looming over your head
- Your spouse won’t have resources or incentive to push excessive litigation forward
While you don’t want to think about it now, adultery can be a surprisingly large issue in divorce. If adultery is found to be the cause of a breakup, the award of attorney’s fees Is not authorized. With a prenup, the financial factors are no longer part of the discussion.
With a prenup, you can define who gets what and how things will be valued before you enter into a marriage. This reduces the scope of litigation as things are already pre-defined. It simply becomes a matter of accounting. It also removes the specter of “fault” in the marriage. Fault is what’s used so a spouse can ask for alimony or a greater share of equitable distribution of property. If that’s already waved, it’s not legally relevant in the event of a divorce.
You can protect and define your pre-marital and non-marital property as well. This applies to complex retirement accounts such as your 401K and real property such as your home or other real estate.
Defining what property will become marital and what will be considered non-marital, even if earned during the marriage, will eliminate questions in case of divorce. For example, you can establish that only property jointly purchased will be considered marital. Property solely in one spouse’s name will remain non-marital property.
Owning a business when married can cause a host of issues if divorce is on the table. A prenup can protect your business by establishing sole ownership, even if your spouse works for your business.
If you do get a divorce, you don’t want your spouse to have material or a nuisance interest in your business. A prenup can define any financial payout from the business that your spouse will receive and remove them from any future interest.
Child Support and Custody
Child custody and support issues can be very tricky in divorces. And while the court has the final say on child support, you can put aspirational language in your prenup that can be very persuasive. For example, if you moved to a good school district you can indicate that supporting public education will remain a priority. This way, if your former spouse insists that private school is the only option, you already have a defense in place. The same is true if you prefer private schools, make the agreement upfront. You can make similar statements for extracurricular activities as well.
Child custody decisions are also made by the court, but the language in your prenup can influence them as well. You can create a plan for respective parenting roles. In court, you can demonstrate how these roles were met. It gives the court no reason to deviate from joint custody.
On a lighter note, were you a fan of the TV show Big Bang Theory? The quirky Sheldon Cooper finally meets the love of his life in Amy Farrah Fowler. But before they get married, they establish a relationship agreement, not unlike the agreement Sheldon had with his long time roommate Leonard.
While your relationship agreement doesn’t have to be quite as thorough as theirs, there may be some things that are worth hashing out before you get married. The prenup is exactly the right place for that.