It is common knowledge that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. However, what most people do not realize is that 50% of all marriages – not people – end in divorce. This statistic is so high due to the divorce rate in second, third (and if you dare, fourth, fifth, …) marriages. One question many people ask is, “How do I protect myself in the event my marriage does not last?”. The answer is with a Prenuptial Agreement. Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous anymore.
So, who needs a prenuptial agreement? Anyone can benefit from a prenuptial agreement, but I strongly recommend one if you:
- Have been divorced before
- Have children from a prior relationship
- Own your own business
- Have ownership in a family business
- Have family money
- Are expecting a significant inheritance or monetary gift
- Are marrying someone of significant less net worth
- Earn significantly more income than your partner
- Are the beneficiary of a trust
- Acquired significant assets prior to your marriage
The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to prevent divorce litigation and provide the couple the ability to agree, in advance of any emotion or conflict inherent in a divorce, upon the distribution of their separate and marital assets, the payment of support or alimony, and the allocation of costs in the event of a divorce.
A prenuptial agreement should be drafted well in advance of a wedding, preferably at least three months. This gives the parties and their attorneys the opportunity to fully negotiate and draft the document. However, nothing in Pennsylvania law prevents a prenuptial agreement from being signed the day before a ceremony if advanced planning was not possible.
There is a presumption in Pennsylvania law that prenuptial agreements are valid if they are signed voluntarily and with full disclosure of the assets and income of both parties. Before any meeting to discuss a prenuptial agreement, I advise my clients to prepare a list of all of their assets and debts, and suggest that they have their partner do the same.