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Should a prenuptial agreement be on your premarital to-do list?

Are there lessons about marriage that our family law and divorce lawyers have learned from helping clients? Absolutely.

First, we recommend that a checklist be prepared not just for the wedding ceremony, but the marriage itself. If a ceremonial party is important enough to warrant careful advance planning, surely planning a lifetime together deserves the same treatment. A couple has freedom to select the topics that will go on the checklist, but we advise that financial assets, parenting expectations and conflict resolution make the cut.

Tennessee law allows for prenuptial agreements, and that legal framework can be a great starting point for financial discussions. As with any contract, the parties cannot contractually agree to terms that contradict applicable laws, such as child support obligations. However, the parties can agree in advance to protections from each other’s debt obligations. Without a prenuptial agreement, creditors might attempt to seize marital property to collect on a spouse’s debt, even if the other spouse had no involvement. 

A prenuptial agreement can also preserve existing assets and intended inheritances. For example, an individual with children from a previous relationship may want to ensure that some of his or her assets will pass to those children. Without a prenuptial agreement, the default outcome after one spouse’s passing might be a transfer of all his or her assets to the other spouse.

A prenuptial agreement can also clarify that all preexisting assets will remain separate from the marital estate. This may be especially important regarding investments or business assets, which might otherwise be characterized as martial property due to their continued existence and/or operation during the marriage.

Source: FindLaw, “Prenuptial Agreements,” copyright 2016, Thomson Reuters

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Murfreesboro Office
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