A prenuptial agreement (commonly referred to as a premarital agreement) is a contract people enter into prior to marriage that establishes the essential property and financial rights of each spouse in the unfortunate event of a divorce. While the agreement can protect you down the line if you and your new spouse part ways, there are many misconceptions that should be addressed before rejecting the notion all together.
Wedding venue is booked, dress is fitted, rings are bought and the flowers are ordered. At this stage most couples assume “I Do” is all that’s left. However, many Americans are now adding another step to their wedding plans; a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is defined as, “an agreement between prospective spouses that is made in contemplation of marriage and that is effective on marriage” and failing to make a prenuptial agreement will result in the courts having power over your estate. So why the hesitation for so many others tying the knot?
Read on for five common myths and misconceptions about prenups and learn how an attorney can help you craft a prenuptial agreement that will provide peace of mind on your big day.
Myth #1: Prenups are only necessary if one spouse is wealthy.
Prenuptial agreements are extremely beneficial to those with ample assets, but they are also highly valuable for the “average-income” individuals, too. For example, if you married without a prenup in place, the courts may not be aware of personal debt, pets, the sentimental value of inheritance items or the fact you had cash set aside for your children. With a prenup, you can customize and define what will remains yours in the instance of a separation in the future.
Myth #2: My Spouse wants a prenup because he/she doesn’t trust me.
Arguably, the biggest reason for not getting a prenup is the misconception it comes down to trust. Or a lack of it. While this can be the case in some relationships, in far more cases these agreements have nothing to do with trust. Instead one, or both, parties want to be prepared for whatever comes their way. While almost all marriages start off with the best of intentions, around 50% of them end in divorce, regardless of the level of trust present on the day of the wedding. A prenuptial agreement will help ensure trust since both parties will need to reveal their assets, debts, and beliefs about how things should work financially in a marriage. In addition, should the marriage fail, this type of agreement really helps to streamline the divorce process for both parties.
Myth #3: Couples who truly love one another don’t need a prenup.
Worried that a prenuptial agreement will pit you and your future spouse against each other or be an omen for divorce? The opposite is actually true. In fact, 86% of mental health experts polled by relationship site YourTango said that prenups have “no predictable impact” on marriage. Completing a prenuptial agreement requires the ability to discuss financial matters and reach compromises; both skills that are a sign of a strong future marriage. So yes, creating a prenup can strengthen your relationship and prepare you for future financial discussions later down the road.
Myth #4: Prenups aren’t enforceable.
This is a myth that has been getting more and more popular in recent years. Although there are times when prenuptial agreements are not enforced in court, the majority of them are. Illinois, like many states, has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). The UPAA is a set of guidelines that govern how courts decide whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable. All prenuptial agreements must be in writing. Both spouses must also sign the agreement for it to be enforceable. In rare cases where prenups are not enforced, it is usually because one spouse was coerced or under duress when signing, or when proper legal procedures are requirements were not met when the agreement was created. If you have a well-written prenuptial agreement that is done properly by an experienced attorney, you have an excellent chance at the courts enforcing it every time.
Myth #5: You shouldn’t hire an attorney to get a prenup.
It’s not a good idea to enter into a prenuptial agreement solo. Every state has separate rules for prenuptial agreements. If you aren’t familiar with your state law, or if you’re not comfortable interpreting the rules, you should hire an attorney. A prenup attorney responsible for drafting a prenuptial agreement will outline a clearly defined assets protection strategy that can reduce the potential for financial disputes during the divorce process.
Couples considering marriage today are three times more likely to enter into a prenuptial agreement than spouses were ten years ago. No longer just a protection for the wealthy, prenuptial agreements are used by couples from all income brackets to decide how to divide their property if they divorce.
A well-crafted premarital agreement can address spouses’ concerns about financial issues or obligations during their marriage, and it can protect certain assets in the case of divorce. At Masters Law Group, we understand that establishing a prenuptial agreement enhances the strength of your relationship and provides the foundation for a strong marriage. If you live in Illinois and need to have your prenup written up, please contact us to go over all your options today.