Prenuptial agreements no longer just for the wealthy

This article looks at prenuptial agreements and at some instances that make them especially useful.

Prenuptial agreements don't exactly have the best reputations. Often looked upon as indicative of a lack of commitment or even a sign of greed by a spouse-to-be, prenuptial agreements have often been looked upon as taboo and unromantic. However, as the Wall Street Journal reports, attitudes towards these agreements may finally be changing. Once considered necessary only for those looking to protect their wealth, prenuptial agreements are increasingly being viewed as a necessary step for most people looking to get married.

Growing in popularity

One study from 2013 found that 63 percent of matrimonial lawyers say they have seen an increase in soon-to-be spouses signing prenuptial agreements in the past three years. The increased popularity of these agreements suggests that many couples are beginning to realize the benefits and protection offered by prenuptial agreements.

Crucially, prenuptial agreements put the control over how a couple's estate will be divided in the hands of the spouses themselves. Some experts point out that negotiating how a marital estate will be divided early on may lead to more reasonable and constructive conversations about finances. At the very least, it is easier to be rational about property division choices prior to a marriage than after a divorce. Making those same decisions during a divorce, when tensions are running so high, is difficult, to say the least.

Who needs a prenup?

Almost anybody can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. However, as CNBC points out, there are four criteria that make a prenuptial agreement all but mandatory. That criterion includes those getting remarried or married later in life, a spouse with significant assets, a spouse with children from a previous relationship, and those who expect their income to increase significantly in the future. In each of these cases, a prenuptial agreement offers protection that would otherwise not be available.

There is also a misconception that prenuptial agreements only matter during a divorce. However, a prenuptial agreement also has an impact in the case of the death of one of the spouses. If one spouse has children from a previous marriage, the prenuptial agreement could require the other spouse to waive his or her interest in a certain share of the estate so that those children are better taken care of.

Family law advice

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document and, as such, drafting an effective and legally enforceable prenuptial agreement will almost always require the assistance of a qualified attorney. Anybody who is considering getting married and wants to ensure that their future - along with their family's future - is protected through a prenuptial agreement should contact an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help draft a prenuptial agreement that ultimately stands the best chance of being upheld in court.