Premarital (Prenuptial) Agreements & Amendments Legal Forms

Contract between two persons who intend to marry which sets forth their rights how their assets will be distributed in the case of divorce or death.

Popular - A premarital (or prenuptial) agreement is a specific type of contract between two persons who are intending to marry. This agreement is entered into in order to spell out the effect of the coupleís forthcoming marriage on their individual property and financial situations. A premarital agreement is, essentially, an agreement to alter the general legal effect of marriage.

In the United States, there are two general sets of rules that apply to the ownership of marital property. Some states follow the community property system while the majority of other states follow the common-law method of marital property ownership. Under community property laws property is divided into two distinct classes: separate property and community property. In common-law states property is put into two basic classes: separate or non-marital property and marital property. The way property is normally divided in the event of a divorce, varies from state to state.

The use of a prenuptial agreement can effectively alter the classification of a spouseís property that is brought into a marriage. Thus, with the use of a premarital agreement, the potential spouses can agree that all of their property that they bring into a marriage will remain as their own separate property throughout the marriage and will not be subject to any division upon eventual divorce. A premarital agreement of this type makes a coupleís property rights regarding property brought to a marriage similar to that of community property states and those common-law states that follow similar laws regarding separate and marital property.

We offer general premarital agreements, termination and amendment agreements as well as prenuptial agreements with Spanish translation.

Prenuptial Agreement FAQ

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

Also known colloquially as the ďPrenup,Ē a Prenuptial Agreement is an agreement between two people who intend on getting married. Typically, these agreements deal specifically with the arrangement of property, defining who owns what, as well as the arrangement of debt. Though most Prenuptial Agreements gain their advantage by being made before the wedding itself, there is still a possibility that a couple can agree to similar terms after the wedding, known as a Postnuptial Agreement.

The scope of Prenuptial Agreements can be modest, or it can extend to a wide range of property, from homes to businesses. It may also address what happens in the case of inheritance earned by one spouse, or may establish the fact that one spouse plans on supporting the other financially during their pursuit of education.

Why would anyone want to sign a Prenuptial Agreement?

There are a number of reasons to sign a Prenuptial Agreement, and once you understand the various implications these agreements have, you start to understand why people might want to use them. For example, someone who owns a business and wants to make sure that they donít have to give up their business in any potential divorce settlement would want to make sure that the business is listed as their property in the Prenuptial Agreement. Typically, most Prenuptial Agreement arrangements relate to this type of property Ė a large asset or even the future potential for large assets.

Other people have different reasons for signing a Prenuptial Agreement, such as establishing the fact that one spouse will be supporting the other financially while the other spouse gets an education. These types of arrangements have nothing to do with an anticipated divorce and in fact help establish the relationship as it will be, post-nuptials.

What kinds of issues are covered in a Prenuptial Agreement?

As mentioned, most issues covered by a Prenuptial Agreement focus on the distribution of assets and debt. Usually, these are the most prized assets and debt Ė and for that reason the Prenuptial Agreement will be signed. Assets such as businesses, real estate, and potential future inheritance are some of the most common types of property that will be defined by a Prenuptial Agreement. But these agreements can also be used in order to ensure that the marriage begins a certain way Ė for example, if one spouse is going to be handling the finances for a while, then that can be put into the Prenuptial Agreement as well. In such a case, divorce proceedings can go very differently from how they would in the absence of a Prenuptial Agreement.

Does the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement preclude future litigation?

No, there is no reason that litigation can be avoided simply because a Prenuptial Agreement exists. However, these agreements can serve to protect against any damages from such litigation, as many judges may be quick to throw out lawsuits that are invalidated by the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement. Itís important to remember that in the United States, you can almost always sue someone Ė but that is no guarantee that they will sue successfully.

What are the limitations on who can sign a Prenuptial Agreement?

Generally, just about anyone can sign a Prenuptial Agreement. Typically itís reserved to those who actually plan on getting married soon, but a Prenuptial Agreement can also exist for couples who one day ďmightĒ get married. Itís worth noting, however, that these types of agreements are generally rare.

What kind of divorce issues are not settled by a Prenuptial Agreement?

The existence of a Prenuptial Agreement might help to define what property belongs to whom, but itís also important to remember that not all important divorce issues can be resolved by the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement. Other issues such as child custody and visitation, as well as child support, will be determined in divorce proceedings independent of the existence of a Prenuptial Agreement, though in some cases (such as child support) the Prenuptial Agreement may have a small impact. Ultimately, many of these cases are up to divorce settlement agreements or court arrangements.

What if we forgot to sign the agreement before we got married?

There is always the Postnuptial Agreement, an agreement that still holds up in court and still allows two people in a marriage to define the property they own. However, it can be too late to sign a Postnuptial Agreement if one or both spouses shows intent to divorce, as these kinds of actions could show a desire to manipulate the divorce proceedings before the occur. Otherwise, if both you and your spouse agree to it, you can sign a Postnuptial Agreement at any time during your marriage.

When is the best time to sign a Prenuptial Agreement?

Itís up to each couple. Typically, the Prenuptial Agreement should be signed well in advance of the wedding in order to avoid any complications that should come too soon before a wedding. Also, the topic of signing a Prenuptial Agreement is best brought up sooner rather than later.

When is a Prenuptial Agreement enforceable?

Upon signing, though the enforceability of the Prenuptial Agreement will also depend, of course, on whether or not the couple signing the agreement has married yet. If not, then there is not much to enforce.

What are the requirements for a Prenuptial Agreement to be valid?

Contrary to what you might think, a Prenuptial Agreement is not valid only if the couple gets married Ė even before theyíre married, the contract is still a valid contract. However, without the condition of marriage (as stipulated by the agreement), the contract will also have no bearing on property discussed therein.

When is a Prenuptial Agreement effective?

The Prenuptial Agreement is effective upon the valid signing and when the couple gets married. Before the couple gets married, the contract is still considered valid but is essentially not ready to be enforced; it can then be enforced during divorce proceedings or during the marriage.

How Premarital Agreements Can Help You

When many of us hear about celebrity divorces, weíre often shocked at just how much money is thrown around as a result of a shaky legal process Ė and perhaps even shoddy representation. Thatís why itís important to remember that no matter how much money you have, all the money in the world canít buy a lawyer so good that theyíre above the law.

Thatís why premarital agreements can help you in a divorce Ė or may even be able to help you in your marriage. Sound ridiculous? Letís take a look at premarital agreements and see just how you can put them to use for you rather than against you.

Premarital Agreements Explained

Premarital agreements Ė often also known as prenuptial agreements Ė are very valuable legal documents because they help define the boundaries of property and assets before a marriage begins. This doesnít only help shape any potential divorce proceedings, but it actually helps define the marriage itself. Having a premarital agreement does not mean that you have to have a divorce in order for the form to have been worthwhile Ė instead, it can actually help you protect your assets even in the presence of a marriage.

Having clearly-defined boundaries of assets can sometimes reduce the overall liability of you as a married couple. For example, if one property is owned by only one spouse, then only that spouseís assets might be liable in certain cases of litigation.

Of course, premarital agreements also have a lot of potential impact on the divorce proceedings, should you choose to undergo them. This can vary wildly, of course, because the documents themselves can vary wildly Ė essentially, two people can put just about whatever they want into a premarital agreement in order to set the terms of the marriage.

The division of property, of course, is one of the main focuses of most prenuptial agreements, which is why itís important to understand their potential impact.

Premarital Agreements and the Division of Property

When most people research premarital agreements, itís because theyíre interested in how the division of property would work in the case of a divorce. The premarital agreement can have a giant impact on this because it establishes the structure of a marriage before it even takes place. When both parties agree to the document, it suggests a contract that might not be able to be undone when a divorce is brought to court.

Assuming, however, that premarital agreements are enough to guarantee that your property will always be protected is a foolís errand. Thatís because any divorce that goes to court could potentially have agreements thrown out for one reason or another. Even so, these premarital agreements can be enforced by the courts, and may represent a solid line in the sand should a divorce ever occur.

Being smart about premarital agreements doesnít mean that you should always hedge your bets in the case of divorce. Instead, premarital agreements should help define the terms of the marriage, giving structure to your future plans and helping you each protect your collective property.

How Premarital Agreements Can Save You Serious Headaches

In todayís world Ė in which some 50% of marriages end in divorce, at least in our country Ė there is a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo created around the institution of marriage. And thereís good reason for this. Marriages can be simple, but divorces can be immensely complicated. In fact, some lawyers only specialize in divorces, helping their clients to win settlements and contests that some people only dream of.

But what often gets ignored in this legal maze is the fact that preparing for a divorce starts with solid contracts up front Ė before the marriage even takes place. And while contracts like the prenuptial agreement might seem ironclad, itís important to remember that these have to be good contracts if theyíre going to have any value later on during a divorce. We at FindLegalForms.com, of course, believe we have the forms to provide exactly that kind of assurance. But letís focus on the big picture and ask ourselves why you might want one of these agreements.

Asset Protection

In the title of this article, we noted that having a pre-marriage agreement or contract can save headaches later on. Thatís not to say you should be counting on divorce, but you should certainly understand the laws that govern it.

The goals of these contracts and agreement is, of course, to avoid headaches. But headaches are best avoided when your assets are protected. Letís say youíre entering a marriage with a $450,000 home and you want to keep that home in the event of a divorce. If the house is solely yours, you may be able to use a prenuptial agreement in order to better secure that house after a divorce.

This kind of asset protection should be essential to any good plan as it relates to having a smooth, headache-less divorce (and, really, how often does one of those really happen?). But as they say in the medical profession, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Thatís why youíll want to place so much emphasis on asset protection from the outset of a marriage.

Betting Against Marriage?

Some people think that signing a prenuptial agreement is like betting against the marriage. But even if you believe in marriage as a lifelong commitment Ė which is important Ė you should also realize that the laws that govern you donít necessarily agree with this point of view. A marriage can be dissolved in the governmentís eyes, and you should be ready for this kind of problem.

Of course, itís not betting against your house purchase to have an agreement pertaining to the purchase of the house. Itís just good common sense. Thatís why so many pre-marital agreements and contracts (though not all, of course) can be so essential to protecting you. If you believe thatís betting against a marriage, thatís your prerogative. But we here at FindLegalForms.com also believe in protecting yourself. Thatís how you save yourself from potential headaches, and itís definitely how you save yourself a lot of money.

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