Years ago, the prevailing wisdom, at least in my corner of the world, held that anyone who would consider a prenuptial agreement a sign that the marriage was doomed to failure. Some would have considered it bad luck to contemplate before tying the knot, the possibility that the marriage would end in failure.
However, times have changed and prenuptial agreements have generally entered the mainstream of public acceptance. There are several different names for this type of agreement including: antenuptial agreement, prenup, and premarital agreement. They all mean the same thing, an agreement that a couple signs before the marriage that determines how assets will be divided and distributed in the event of a divorce. Prenup agreements are important for people with extensive assets. Prenuptial agreements must be drafted and executed with great care, any mistakes can cause the agreement to be rendered null and void during a divorce proceeding.
The prenuptial can be the greatest single point of contention during a divorce proceeding, an expense that could’ve been avoided if the agreement had been drafted professionally and carefully by an attorney. This isn’t one of those items where you want to download a free “How To” guide and save yourself some money.
Full disclosure is one of the most important aspects of such an agreement. Anything less than this will be a matter to be fought over during the divorce proceeding. In fact, aside from duress, the lack of full disclosure is one of the main reasons why prenuptial agreements may be rendered null and void during a divorce case. Duress, while not typically effective in getting a prenup thrown out, is one of the most widely used reasons to nullify a prenup. Some typical reasons are extremely short deadlines between the time the prenup is presented, and the time of the marriage. Also, lack of funds, lack of an attorney, and an imbalance in sophistication can be pointed to as grounds for a duress argument.
Prenuptial agreements are highly personal in nature and are between the two about to marry. No rule fits whether a prenup is a good idea or whether one works in every situation. Each situation is different and circumstances play a huge role in determining whether such an agreement prior to marriage is a good idea. If you’re not sure, talk to a lawyer about it and seek proper counsel.