It is hard to imagine a marriage ending when a couple is surrounded by wedding festivities. The harsh reality is that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. A simple prenuptial agreement helps protect what an individual brings to a marriage. In the event a marriage ends, it can help set the tone for an amicable divorce.
A simple prenuptial agreement is a legally binding document between two people entering into a marital relationship. Items included in the agreement are anything of value that an individual wishes to protect in the event the marriage should end. Such items include inherited property from a family member or financial gifts for children from a previous relationship. Ownership of these individual items of value is determined by the state handling a couple’s divorce when there is no prenuptial agreement in place.
A simple prenuptial agreement can be used to protect any property owned by either individual before the start of the marriage. This property may have been received as a result of a gift or an inheritance from another family member. By placing it in the prenuptial agreement, the couple establishes that the property becomes an uncontested item should the marriage end. It can also be used to disclose an individual’s wishes to leave that gifted or inherited property to a spouse if the individual should die.
Prenuptial agreements provide protection for a spouse from any debts earned by a partner before the marriage. Without an agreement in place creditors can seize assets earned together during the marriage to satisfy an individual's outstanding debt. Other financial responsibilities can also be detailed in a prenuptial agreement such as whether the couple will maintain a joint checking account with separate savings accounts and who will handle filing income taxes each year.
When an individual enters into a marriage with children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement can protect any inheritance or property that child may receive from a parent. It will allow for a financial or property gift that a parent set aside for a child before the start of the marriage to be received uncontested. In the event a parent dies, the prenuptial agreement can be used to disclose how the surviving spouse will care for the child. Simple prenuptial agreements cannot be used to discuss issues of child support or custody of the couple's current or future children.
If the marriage should end, the state will step in and divide marital assets and finances as it sees fit. Having a simple prenuptial agreement in place will allow the couple to have a say in how the marital assets and finances are divided. Some states allow for the disclosure of who will be expected to pay alimony. The prenuptial agreement creates the possibility for an amicable divorce proceeding.