Almost every engaged couple can benefit from getting a prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding day. Not only does a prenup protect the income and assets each spouse brings into the marriage, but it also encourages couples to discuss their goals and intentions, ensuring they are on the same page when it comes to long-term financial and family planning.
Why Get a Prenup?
Marriage automatically creates certain rights and responsibilities between spouses which govern what happens to their income and assets in the event of divorce or death. Without a prenuptial agreement in place, state law will govern the allocation of the income and assets of the marriage in the event of divorce or the death of a spouse. Sometimes, the proper outcome under the law is complicated and unclear, leading to prolonged legal battles. Other times, a couple may discuss and intend on a certain result, but find their intentions superseded by state law in the absence of a written agreement.
In addition to these considerations, the process of creating a prenuptial agreement requires a couple to take the time at the beginning of their relationship, while everyone is getting along, to think through what a fair outcome might be in the event the marriage does not work out. Negotiating a prenup need not be an adversarial process. Rather, the parties can work with a resolution-oriented attorney, a mediator, or use the Collaborative process to work out the details of their prenuptial agreement together.
There are several specific situations in which prenuptial agreements are particularly helpful, including when one or both spouses:
- Have or are set to receive an interest in a closely held family business
- Are bringing significant assets into the marriage which they want to keep separate in the event the marriage ends
- Have children from a prior relationship they intend to inherit some or all their estate (instead of the new spouse becoming the primary beneficiary automatically)
- Have or are set to receive a sizeable inheritance
- Wish to make agreements prior to the marriage that would supersede state law requirements on the payment of spousal support (alimony)
What to Include in the Prenup?
There is no such thing as a standard prenuptial agreement. Each family is unique and the prenup should be tailored to fit their needs. Some of the topics a couple may want to discuss and include in their prenup are:
- How will we handle our money during the marriage? Will we have a joint bank account we each deposit money into, or will we keep our accounts separate?
- If we intend to keep separate bank accounts, how will we divvy up our shared household expenses and other bills each month?
- What is an equitable way to share our monthly expenses if one of us has substantially more income than the other?
- If we plan to have children, do we intend for one of us to be a stay-at-home parent for a time, forgoing a career?
- If our incomes are disproportionate and we divorce, how will the lower-earning spouse support themselves after the marriage?
- If we are bringing separate assets into the marriage, what do we need to do to keep them separate?
- What can we do if we both change our minds about a provision in our prenuptial agreement down the road?
- How do we make sure our children from a prior relationship receive a portion of our assets if we die during the marriage?
What Cannot Be Included in a Prenup?
Under Oregon law, a prenuptial agreement cannot address issues of child support, custody, and parenting time. Those issues can only be decided if and when you divorce.
A prenuptial agreement should not be signed in haste. The process of cooperatively negotiating a prenuptial agreement can take time, and couples should begin working on it early on (ideally at least six months ahead of the wedding date).
Contact us at Posey Legal, P.C. for more information on how we can work with you and your fiancé to help prepare your prenuptial agreement, and we will schedule a consultation with one of our experienced prenuptial agreement attorneys.