Say the words “prenuptial agreement” and you are almost sure to see a frown on the face of anyone and everyone in the room. Missouri residents, as well as those in other states, may see such documents as a harbinger of doom to a couple planning a marriage, or at the very least, not a great way to start such an endeavor. But prenuptial agreements have benefits too, some of them reaching beyond the marriage to include security for family members too.
According to FindLaw, a premarital agreement helps safeguard each spouse’s separate property and defines what they consider community property, which they own together. This gives the couple a starting place for sorting out what belongs to who should the marriage fail, as unfortunately, about half of all marriages do in the U.S.
Another benefit of the document may be the security it gives to others who are close to you. In today’s society, a blended family is a norm, and children and extended family members from a previous relationship can be provided for, and are likely to feel more secure with prenuptial provisions that protect their interests too.
Simply having the agreement is not enough to guarantee it will be accepted by the court, however. There are several reasons the document may be ruled invalid:
Oral agreements are not valid. The agreement must be written, and both parties must sign it.
- Full disclosure of each person’s finances is needed to fulfill the requirement of entering into the agreement “in good faith.”
- The arrangement must be “conscionable.” Despite what both parties agreed, if one spouse is left destitute while the other is well off, the court will not enforce it.
- Both must make the agreement willingly, without being pressured by the other party, his or her attorney, or family members.
- Both must have time to study the document, ask questions or seek legal advice before agreeing. This means that the agreement must be worked out well in advance of the wedding itself.
You should also know that child support and custody cannot be determined in the prenuptial agreement; those issues are to be decided by the judicial system. This article about prenuptial agreements is informational in nature and is not meant to be taken as legal advice.