There are many benefits to signing a prenuptial agreement with your significant other before marrying.

In certain situations, getting a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage would be considered best practice. If you are entering your second marriage, for instance, it is highly recommended that you and your partner sign a prenuptial agreement. Additionally, if you and your spouse come from significantly different financial situations where one spouse has much more wealth or debt than the other, then a prenuptial agreement would be suggested.

Obtaining a prenuptial agreement is also a possibility after you are married, if done in conjunction with estate planning. Prenuptial agreements can be used to help reduce claims made against the estate by the spouse’s children or even by third parties. However in many cases, if divorce occurs, a prenuptial agreement for purposes of estate planning will be set aside.

One major benefit provided by prenuptial agreements is the avoidance of dividing property among divorcing spouses according to state law. Dividing mortgaged property that was brought into the marriage is an issue in particular that causes problems upon divorce. People frequently assume that if they hold title to a property prior to marriage, it will be considered separate property and will not be subject to equitable division upon divorce. This assumption may be incorrect if the property had a loan on it at the time of marriage. Since that loan was paid off with funds earned during the marriage, the property can therefore be considered marital property and be subject to equitable division among the spouses. Prenuptial agreements, however, can avoid this scenario by declaring which spouse will be entitled to what property.

Along the same lines, spouses should also be wary of how they maintain property after signing a prenuptial agreement. Despite the terms contained in a prenuptial agreement, what the spouses actually do, or their “course of action” will be given weight over the content of a prenuptial.

A very difficult challenge in maintaining property after a pre nuptial is signed is keeping separate the property separate. Commonly in a marriage, both spouses will help to maintain the separate property of one of the spouses. By contributing to the maintenance through either payments or by other means like sweat equity, a spouse who otherwise would have no claim to the property may actually have some entitlement to the property after the marriage is dissolved. These contributions to the property can turn what was once considered separate property into marital property, which will then likely be distributed between both spouses.

Overall, every couple is unique and your decision to design, sign, and maintain a prenuptial agreement should be based on your unique circumstances. If you need help making your decision, talk to your attorney for advice.

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