Prenuptial Agreements

What is it?

Definition

A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement, antemarital agreement, or prenup) is a binding contract executed by prospective spouses to define the rights, duties, and obligations of the parties during marriage and in the event of legal separation, annulment, divorce, or death.

What issues are addressed in a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement should include you and your spouse's decisions in four basic areas:

  • Assets and liabilities--What assets are you each bringing into the marriage? How much are they worth? Who owns them? Which ones will become marital property and which ones will continue to be owned by you or your future spouse individually? Will gifts and inheritances be shared or kept separate? What liabilities do you each have, such as back taxes or other debt?

  • Divorce--Will there be alimony or a lump-sum payment? Will you divide or exempt appreciation of assets brought to the marriage? How will you divide assets purchased from joint funds?

  • Estates--What will go to children from a previous marriage or children you may have in the future? Who gets what after either spouse dies?

  • The contributions of each partner--How will you compensate for special contributions, such as one spouse limiting a career or losing pension benefits due to childrearing responsibilities? How will you compensate for one spouse bringing in more liabilities to the marriage?

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