How Do I Use a Prenup If I Divorce?
A prenuptial agreement, if properly executed, can make a divorce much simpler, so the process consumes less time, energy, and money. If you plan on getting married, it’s something worth considering. Here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, we make sure that you have an airtight prenup when you get married and also skillfully use your prenuptial agreement should you get divorced.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, or a premarital contract or “prenup,” is a contract between two people planning to marry. It’s a written, signed document containing mutual promises. It goes into effect when the two marry. The parties release their rights when they divorce, or one dies.
It can cover who pays what expenses during the marriage and what will happen if there’s a divorce:
- Who will receive how much alimony
- How property will be divided
- How assets and debts will be divided
Who will get what kind of child custody and who will pay how much child support are not topics in a prenup. Those agreements will be part of your divorce agreement.
What Makes a Prenup Valid?
To be enforceable, the agreement must be:
- Voluntarily signed by the parties
- Not severely unfair and one-sided (one party will not be left destitute)
- A result of both parties fully disclosing their financial information
- Free of fraud or duress
Both parties need to have attorneys help them put the agreement together and review it. This is a significant component in ensuring that the prenup is enforceable.
Can a Prenup Be Disputed?
A prenup can be challenged if a party can make a good faith argument that it isn’t enforceable. A court should uphold the prenup unless there’s clear and convincing evidence showing legal requirements weren’t met. A prenup may have been very fair when it was written but due to a change of circumstances, one party is going to now be left destitute. That will not be allowed.
What are Potential Complications?
When a marriage starts, both parties make assumptions based on what they want to do or what they think will happen. But life is complicated:
- Both parties may be employed, so the agreement may be made based on that continuing. One or both may be temporarily unemployed at some point. One may suffer a disability, so that person has a lower or no income.
- A party may own a business before the marriage or start one after the wedding. The business may do very well, so there’s more income and assets than expected, or very poorly, so the income is much lower than what they planned for, or a spouse (or both spouses) may be deep in debt.
- The two may have a child and one spouse may become a stay-at-home parent. If they weren’t planning for a child, expenses might be much higher than expected and income much lower
Prenups should account for many possibilities, not just what the couple plans to do. If they encounter financial challenges that aren’t covered, it can cause conflicts during the divorce.
Get Help With a Prenup From an Attorney You Can Trust
If you have questions about prenups, want help creating one, or feel the one you signed shouldn’t be enforced, use our online calendar to schedule a free consultation or call us at (215) 752-6200.