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Saturday, February 13, 2010

We want Prenup! We want Prenup!

Most of my clients and a great many of the people I talk with outside of my professional capacity seem to believe that a Prenup (otherwise known as a Prenuptial Agreement or, if executed after the marriage, a Post Nuptial Agreement) is something that only comes into play after they accumulate vast amounts of money. That is most definitely not the case.

A Prenup can be a fantastic tool for any relationship, even with parties who have very few assets to speak of. This often maligned document simply states the rules of the game up front. It can divide property, provide for spousal maintenance, or include "punishment" provisions for if one partner does not keep to the agreement, such as those sometimes mentioned for marital infidelity.

There was a time when Courts simply ignored Prenups, believing they were a corruption of the ideals of marriage. In the modern age, the Court tends to take a more pragmatic approach if both parties were represented by counsel when the Prenup was negotiated and there was no undue pressure on one party to sign. For instance, if you want a Prenup- don't ask your future spouse to sign on your wedding day.

If the relationship does come to an end, the Court still has the ability to divide property as they see fit. But a Prenup can give the Court a high level of certainty as to what the parties intended at the outset of the relationship, and whether the rules of the game have been arbitrarily changed for the benefit of one party over another.