Wedding season is upon us, and while many brides and grooms are preparing for their big day by picking out flowers, dresses and cakes, one of the most important decisions an engaged couple can make is likely being overlooked.
Most people already know that a prenuptial agreement is an agreement between two people that deals with the financial consequences of their marriage ending. In Virginia, they are also referred to as Premarital Agreements. While there are many reasons to execute a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage, here are the three most important reasons:
In many cases, parties contemplating marriage come from vastly different financial backgrounds. One spouse may be significantly wealthier than the other; one spouse may have significant debt. In addition, one or both parties may have business interests. Without a prenuptial agreement, if your marriage ends, your spouse could end up owning a share of your business, contrary to the wishes of your business partners. A prenuptial agreement is also necessary to protect your estate plans and to prevent you from unintentionally disinheriting any children from a prior relationship.
Reduction of Conflict
No one enters a marriage contemplating divorce and people often resist discussing a prenuptial agreement to avoid the appearance that they are preparing for divorce prior to the marriage. Doing so can have disastrous consequences and result in years of litigation over issues such as property division, child custody and support and spousal support. By resolving these issues in advance, the conflict inherent in divorce is greatly reduced. There may still be some emotional turmoil, but the financial distress can be obviated by proper planning.
Reduction of Costs
The legal expenses incurred in litigated divorce can decimate the financial resources of both parties. With a well-crafted prenuptial agreement, many couples can pursue a no-fault divorce at significantly less costs than a contested divorce.
While nobody enters into marriage anticipating or hoping for a divorce, these things do happen. A premarital agreement just ensures that both parties are protected, and that any legal proceedings at the end of a marriage go as smoothly as possible.