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What to Include in Your Prenuptial Agreement

Aug. 26, 2013

Are you looking to protect your assets and property? If you are entering into a marriage union and you would like to keep some assets or inheritance separate from that of your spouse, then drafting a prenuptial agreement could be a smart move. A prenuptial agreement, or "prenup", is an agreement between two people who are looking to get married. In order for this document to be considered valid, it must clearly disclose all assets, it must be signed by both parties, and it must be entered into freely and not by coercion.

The overall purpose of a prenup, is to make the division of property, assets and debts easier if the couple is to ever divorce later in the future. Because of this, many people see prenuptial agreements a negative gesture that kills the romance and destines the marriage to fail. Premarital agreements not only protect you in case of divorce, but they also make provisions for several other important matters. Preparing for a divorce is not the only purpose that it serves. Depending on how you draft the legal document, prenuptial agreements can address the following issues:

  • How the separate property should be divided up between you and your spouse

  • How community property, or property acquired during the marriage, should be divided

  • How your income or your spouse's earnings will be perceived once you are married

  • Who is entitled to spousal support or alimony payments and how much

  • Who will pay for attorney fees if you both go to court to file for a divorce of separation

  • Who will be paying for the children's or stepchildren's expenses in the event of a divorce

Aside from the regular reasons for a prenup such as keeping finances separate and keeping property in the family, you can also protect your soon-to-be spouse from inheriting your debts. Many people go into marriage with student loans and other debts in their name. Drafting a prenup can keep those debts from also affecting your spouse. Premarital agreements can help individuals protect the best interests of their children if they have kids from a previous marriage. This allows parents to leave their children their share of property after they die and ensures that their inheritance is not split up between any other stepchildren.

Prenuptial agreements are also very helpful when it comes to establishing certain responsibilities during the marriage. You can include terms and conditions that specify agreements on the following:

  • How much money should go into savings

  • How much money should go towards school

  • How credit card debt will be handled

  • How to manage your joint bank account

  • Whether or not you will file joint or separate tax returns

  • How future disagreements will be handled (via mediation or arbitration)

What Not to Include in Your Prenuptial Agreement

It is important that you know that issues regarding child custody, visitation or child support cannot be included in prenuptial agreements because they are public issues that cannot be decided in private agreements. Prenuptial agreements should also not be used to encourage divorce in any way. These documents are not meant to promote divorce, so you should not include incentives that would encourage your spouse to file for divorce. Lastly, you should not include personal agreements that are nonfinancial in nature. You should not list out whether or not you will have a pet or whether your spouse will take your last name- these types of matters should be handled outside of the premarital agreement.

If you and your fiancé are looking to draft a prenuptial agreement, then you will need the help of a Pasadena family law attorney to help you. Contact the Law Office of Fritzie Galliani, APC today to schedule a consultation!