To ascertain whether you need a prenuptial agreement lawyer or not, you need to have a clear understanding of what a pre-nuptial agreement is. You must also know what purposes does it serve.
This article covers the following topics:
What is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
As evident from the name, a prenuptial agreement is a written contract signed by two people before getting married. In common parlance, a prenuptial agreement is also called a prenup. The broad purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to make a list of all the assets and liabilities that a person has against his name before getting married. Then they specify what their rights and obligations would be on those properties and debts after marriage.
In some jurisdictions, prenuptial agreements are also known as antenuptial agreements. In some states, a more straightforward term of ‘premarital agreement’ is used.
Purposes Served by Pre-Nuptial Agreements
Even in the recent past, the majority used to see pre-nuptial agreements as a matter of the rich. Since these agreements aim to protect one’s rights on their properties after marriage, people saw it as something that only affluent people would bother about. But, perceptions of pre-nuptial agreements have been gradually evolving. People, irrespective of economic class, are showing interest in pre-nuptial agreement before marrying.
The increase in interest is primarily driven by an improved understanding of the benefits a prenup could provide. Here we would have a look at some of the most valuable benefits.
Benefits for People With Children from Prior Marriages:
People who have children from prior marriages often opt for a prenup. It safeguards their children’s rights on their properties from the claim of the other spouse. In the case of one spouse’s death, there are chances that the surviving spouse would get a large share of the dead spouse’s properties, leaving too little for his/her children from prior marriages. Clear instructions in the prenup on how one’s property is to be distributed nullify this risk.
Protecting Oneself from the Other Spouse’s Liabilities:
A prenuptial agreement safeguards one spouse from the other one’s debts and liabilities. Unless there is an agreement, the surviving spouse may become responsible, in the eyes of law, to repay the other spouse’s loans after his/her death. By drafting a prenup, each of the spouses can direct the authorities, not to hold their surviving spouses liable for repaying their debts.
Like protection from other spouse’s liabilities, a prenup also helps define one’s rights and responsibilities during the marriage. A prenup can provide a clear set of instructions on which expenses will be borne by whom after marriage so that there is no scope of confusion later on.
All these definitions of rights and responsibilities help people to avoid unnecessary arguments. Therefore, there are no arguments about the distribution of properties and liabilities during a divorce proceeding. It is quite evident by now that prenuptial agreements play a crucial role. It safeguards one’s interests in a conjugal relationship.
While there are many advantages of forming a prenup, one should also remember that courts scrutinize prenuptial agreements quite minutely. Although getting divorced and marrying again is not uncommon anymore, traditionally, the judiciary suspected prenups as arrangements that indirectly encourage break up. Therefore, it is prudent to take the help of a trained legal mind who is well-versed with contract laws and personal agreement laws. In the segment that follows, we have explained how a prenuptial agreement lawyer is of help.
The Benefits of Deploying an Attorney to Carry Out Your Prenup
- As already mentioned, courts scrutinize prenups with much intensity suspecting the involvement of a waiver of legal and financial benefits by a less wealthy spouse. An attorney helps to draft a prenup in a language that is clear, understandable, and free of legal loopholes. Drafting a prenup all by yourself may prove counterproductive by subjecting it to more than usual legal scrutiny.
- Having an attorney draft your prenups is also highly important. It is because the rules and regulations defining the contours of such agreements vary from one state to another. An attorney knows how to formulate a contract satisfying the requirements and staying within the limitations as set by the state judicial system.
- It’s not only important to hire an attorney to draft your agreement, but legal experts also recommend hiring two independent lawyers representing the sides of both the spouses involved. Since this is an agreement between two spouses, it is not legally possible to have the same attorney represent and argue for both sides.
What if one Side Does not Appear With an Attorney?
If one side comes with an attorney and the other side does not, the court sees the arrangement with suspicion. The court doubts that the spouse who appears without an attorney has come with an incomplete understanding of the legalities of the agreement. There downside. If the court feels that one side entered the agreement without understanding what its implications were, it may reject the contract during divorce proceedings.
It is important to have an attorney involved in your prenup arrangement from day zero. Start the process by sitting with the prenuptial agreement lawyer and letting him/her explain the clauses, conditions, and regulations involved in an agreement. Then, tell him about the specific requirements you want to be incorporated into your agreement. An attorney is the best person to give legal shape to your needs. Conditions that you include in your agreement should not be arbitrary. They must be backed by legal provisions that are valid in the state. Once both parties seal and agree on the prenup, the lawyer notarizes it.
The Lawyer Who Drafted Your Prenup can Defend you in Court
In case of a divorce, you can go back to the lawyer who had drafted your contract to legally defend them in a court of law. The prenuptial agreement lawyer would help assist your divorce lawyer as he/she knows the exact terms, conditions, and legal provisions of your prenup.
There are many ways to source a qualified prenup lawyer:
#1. You may take references from your friends and family.
#2. Consult the local bar association helpline or its lawyer referral program.
#3. Lookup up the online lawyer directory of American Courthouse. Go for lawyers who specialize in this area and have a proven track record of drafting legally robust prenups.
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