When a couple is preparing to marry, the thoughts of both partners are often consumed by ideas of romance and building a future together. It can be rather easy to forget that marriage also represents a civil partnership, as well, not entirely different from a business relationship of sorts. As Americans continue to wait longer to marry, many individuals are bringing more of a financial and personal history to their marriage, often creating a situation that is best served by negotiating a prenuptial agreement prior to saying “I do.”
A survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers indicated that a majority of divorce and family law attorneys have seen an increase in prenuptial agreements over the last few years. There is an ongoing debate, however, over the effectiveness of many prenuptial agreements and the idea that formalizing such a contract can negatively impact the health of a relationship. For many, especially those entering a second or third marriage, a prenuptial agreement offers the opportunity to objectively discuss finances and money matters before they become a serious issue.
The main advantage of a well-negotiated prenuptial agreement is that it can remove much of the uncertainty that could potentially exist at the end of the marriage, whether that end comes by divorce or the death of a spouse. This can be particularly helpful for couples who bring with them substantial personal property or assets acquired prior to the marriage. By utilizing a prenuptial agreement, spouses are often able to agree upon the disposition of such property in the event of death or divorce, without the range of emotions death or divorce may cause jeopardizing objective decision-making. Instead, a couple is often able to plan logically and without bitterness so that, when the time comes, there will be little or no need for litigation or contentious family disputes.