I Think I Need a Prenup – What Should I Include?

Some people believe that prenuptial (prenups) agreements are unromantic, can ruin a wedding, and can cause problems between partners.  However, there are many reasons why you should consult a Pennsylvania marital agreements lawyer to discuss a prenup.

For example, if you have inherited a considerable sum from your family, own a family operated business, or have children from a previous relationship, entering a prenuptial agreement can protect your children and pre-marital assets. In addition, prenups encourage discussion about financial matters because they require full disclosure of all financial matters by both parties. In most cases, going through the process of drafting a pre-marital agreement can strengthen the bond between partners by encouraging the partners to discuss assets, debts, and future goals openly and honestly.

What Should You Include in Your Prenuptial Agreement?

There are some key issues you need to address when drafting a prenup. Your attorney will guide you through the process, but you may want to specifically ask your lawyer about issues including:

  • Family Property and Business Interests — If you want to ensure that your family-owned business or family heirlooms remain in your birth family, you can specify in your prenup that these items will not be included in marital property and they will pass directly to your children or other family members.

  • Children from Prior Relationships — In the agreement, one or both parties can relinquish their right to claim a share of the other party’s estate so that the assets pass to the children from a prior relationship. You can agree to relinquish the right in exchange for an agreed-upon sum or property, or you can simply make it a mutual relinquishment.

  • Property Division — One of the issues that many couples litigate in a divorce is the division of marital assets. Without a prenup, Pennsylvania divorce laws dictate the division of marital property. However, you and your partner may establish your own rules for dividing property in a divorce by including the terms in a pre-marital agreement.

  • Protection from Debts — You may use a prenup to limit your liability for debts a spouse incurred prior to the marriage. This can be very important for individuals who may have substantial assets and who may be concerned about protecting those assets or protecting marital property from existing debts.

  • Define Spousal Support — A prenup may also include terms regarding alimony or spousal support. The parties may define when and in what amounts alimony will be paid. In addition, the parties may agree under what terms alimony will be waived by either spouse.

  • Define Other Financial Matters — In addition to the above, you may also use a prenuptial agreement to define the roles and responsibilities of each spouse regarding other financial matters. For example, you may stipulate that all financial accounts will remain separate thereby avoiding joint accounts, including credit accounts. You may stipulate how household expenses will be paid, whether you need to set aside money in an emergency savings account, and agreements regarding major purchases such as cars, homes, and boats.

In addition, you can also use a prenup to agree on the method for solving future disputes, including submitting to arbitration or mediation.

What You Cannot Include in a Prenup

There are several things that you should not or cannot include in a prenuptial agreement. Some of the items that should not be included in a prenup are:

  • Child Support, Custody, and Visitation — The courts do not allow couples to agree to future child support and custody arrangements in a prenup. State lawmakers believe that the child’s best interest should take precedence during a divorce proceeding instead of any prior agreements that the parents may have with each other.

  • Nonfinancial Matters — Dictating rules about nonfinancial matters can create problems for couples. Agreements such as who will perform household chores, take the children to school, how to relate to in-laws, and whether spouses must participate in extra-curricular activities may not be binding in court. In some cases, including some matters in a prenup could make the entire prenup invalid. Your Pennsylvania Marital Agreements Lawyer can help you determine if an item should be excluded from the agreement.

Call a Pennsylvania Marital Agreements Lawyer for More Information

If you are considering a prenuptial or pre-marital agreement, you and your partner need separate attorneys to guide you through the process. Having separate counsel ensures that neither party is coerced or taken advantage of by the other party. Contact our Pennsylvania family law attorneys to discuss matters related to marital agreements, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.