Premarital Planning: A Responsible Step for Many Couples
When you are in love and planning to marry a special person, your future together seems limitless. Unfortunately, the reality of life and relationships is that not everything lasts. Indeed, almost one in two marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Many times, the divorce process is nasty and prolonged. Other times, separating is the right thing to do for the parties involved and an amicable split is possible. Planning ahead of time for the possibility of a divorce, no matter how remote that possibility may seem, can prove a very responsible action – often saving heartache in the future. Our attorneys possess the sensitivity and experience necessary to guide you through the premarital planning process. We have helped hundreds of couples with prenuptial agreements and are ready to help you and your partner.
Do I Need Premarital Planning?
You have almost certainly heard of a prenuptial agreement or the more colloquial term “pre-nup.” It is important to note that prenuptial agreements are not appropriate for every potential marriage. The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to avoid future hassles during a divorce. To accomplish this, parties voluntarily agree to terms regarding property division or family living arrangements prior to marriage. Therefore, it is illogical to draft a prenuptial agreement when both parties to a marriage have little to no property and no existing children coming into a marriage. On the other hand, a prenuptial agreement is highly-advisable when one or both parties to a marriage have significant property, or a blended family is created through marriage.
Why is a Prenuptial Agreement Necessary?
Marriage is a contract between two individuals. Like any contract where significant value attaches, a marriage between individuals who already have valuable assets should have necessary terms and conditions in the event that the contract is breached. This type of planning allows the focus to shift away from who or what caused a divorce and toward an efficient resolution of a divorce by establishing: (1) who came into the marriage with what particular assets, (2) what a reasonable property and asset division might look like, and (3) how all parties to the marriage, including pre-existing children, are taken care of in the event of a divorce. In this sense, a prenuptial agreement is really a thoughtful expression of love between the individuals getting married.
As an ancillary benefit, drafting a prenuptial agreement can help both individuals understand the underlying motivations of their future spouse –especially if there is a significant discrepancy in net-worth. Remember, two individuals who may seem to make similar salaries may have vast differences in their amount of personal debt. This creates a significant net-worth discrepancy, which should not come as an unpleasant surprise after a couple is married. Understanding the full financial picture, along with how each potential spouse envisions the term of a prenuptial agreement, can provide helpful information to each party. You cannot predict why a great marriage might end in divorce, but you can prepare in a responsible manner. Our experienced attorneys understand the important factors and steps in premarital planning and safeguard your future.
Already Married – Consider A Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement executed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple’s affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce. Like the contents of a prenuptial agreement, provisions commonly include division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce, death of one of the spouses, or breakup of marriage.
Maryland premarital planning attorneys protect your best interests
Marriages do not always last, but your peace of mind should. To discuss drafting a pre or postnuptial agreement, schedule an appointment with us at one of our office locations in Columbia, Rockville, D.C., Tysons or McLean.