For many years, the prevailing mindset concerning prenuptial agreements was that it was something to be avoided, as it was nothing more than a tacit admission that marriage was doomed to end in divorce. Fortunately, this mindset has evolved considerably such that prenuptial agreements are now a fixture of many modern marriages, right up there with the wedding cake and flowers.
If you don’t quite believe that the views on prenuptial agreements are changing, consider some of the findings from a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers:
- 63 percent of respondent attorneys indicated that they had seen an increase in the number of couples executing prenuptial agreements over the last three years.
- 46 percent of respondent attorneys indicated that they had seen an increase in the number of women seeking to execute prenuptial agreements over the last three years.
While this shift in the legal landscape is certainly encouraging, it begs the question as to whether every engaged couple should actively consider executing a prenuptial agreement.
In general, a prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract executed by a couple before they are married that sets forth certain rights and expectations if they divorce. Typically, couples use it as a mechanism to decide how their property will be classified (marital v. separate) and then divided in the event of a split.
According to experts, even though attitudes towards prenuptial agreements are shifting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every couple has to execute one before walking down the aisle.
“If you’re making less than $100,000 a year, there probably isn’t a compelling reason to get a prenup,” said the president of the AAML. “When you have assets over $200,000, that’s where you’ll see most of it.”
Experts indicate that those people with children who are entering their second or third marriage, or older people with adult children may also be prime candidates to execute a prenuptial agreement.
However, they also point out that couples with considerably fewer assets can still have meaningful discussions about prenuptial agreements with their soon-to-be spouse (at the very least it can help lead to a mutual understanding concerning finances) or even go ahead with the execution of a prenuptial agreement if it will provide peace of mind.
If you would like to learn more about prenuptial agreements, divorce, or other family law issues, you should strongly consider consulting with an experienced attorney who can outline your options and explain your rights.