Prenuptial agreements are some of the most misunderstood documents in family law. If you are preparing to marry in St. Charles, MO, it is worth taking time to learn what a prenuptial agreement actually is, how it works, what it can do, and the potential value one could hold for you and your fiancée. While many people consider the suggestion of a prenuptial agreement to be insulting to the other party, or a sign of lack of faith that the marriage will work out, the reality is that developing a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying can lay a more solid foundation for the marriage, allow the betrothed couple to outline their expectations, and generally lessen the shock that often follows starting a new chapter in life.
The right St. Charles, MO family law attorney can help their client develop a comprehensive and enforceable prenuptial agreement that may not only allow the couple to enter their marriage with greater financial security but also allow them to have challenging conversations before they commit to the marriage. Many couples who draft prenuptial agreements find that the process encourages and requires honest and clear communication. Such open dialogue can potentially set the tone for the future of their marriage.
What Can a Prenuptial Contract Include?
A prenuptial contract is often also a postnuptial contract. The document will not only outline each spouse’s rights and responsibilities during their marriage but also mutually agreed plans in the event the marriage does not last. Prenuptial contracts allow marrying partners to discuss their preferences when it comes to property rights and many other topics:
- A prenuptial contract can outline each spouse’s separate property, or property they owned prior to the marriage. This can significantly speed up divorce proceedings as the couple will already have clear definitions of each of their separate property rights. The contract can also outline individually held debt, so a divorcee is not held liable for debts their ex held prior to their marriage.
- Prenuptial contracts are especially beneficial to those who own significant wealth. Complex investments, retirement accounts, and other assets can sometimes change into marital property under certain conditions. Still, the reality is that having clear financial guidelines in place before a marriage begins can help put a couple at ease since their expectations and obligations are made legally clear from the beginning.
- It is not uncommon for a couple to include a postnuptial agreement clause in their prenuptial contract. Some might consider this cynical, but ultimately having a plan in place in the event the marriage does not work out is best for everyone involved.
- A marrying couple can also outline financial responsibilities going forward, such as which spouse is responsible for handling certain bills or paying down separately-held debts.
- When a person has children from a previous marriage, their prenuptial contract can help them ensure their current children will have inheritance rights regardless of whether they have more children with their new spouse.
It is possible to go into extensive detail during the creation of a prenuptial contract, outlining the specific rights, responsibilities, and obligations each spouse will have during the marriage. However, there are some things that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, such as:
- Illegal terms and conditions. In the event a prenuptial contract includes any terms or conditions that are blatantly illegal, the contract is unenforceable.
- Personal rights and responsibilities. A prenuptial contract cannot dictate personal issues, such as where the couple will spend their vacations, how they will raise their children, or how often they will consent to physical intimacy.
- Child custody. If a couple develops a prenuptial contract and has children after they marry, they cannot stipulate custody or child support within the prenuptial contract. Upon divorce, they will need to defer to the family court system to settle child care and custody-related matters.
- Incentive to divorce. It is not legal to include any terms that can be interpreted as encouraging or rewarding future divorce.
Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement can be a comprehensive document that outlines your expectations and goals for your marriage while providing peace of mind, financial security, and confidence for the future.
How to Modify a Prenuptial Contract
The law of St. Charles, MO recognizes that life can change unexpectedly and dramatically with little to no warning. When some life events happen, they can conflict with an existing prenuptial contract. Anyone who has a prenuptial contract developed should take time to review it occasionally to ensure the elements of the contract continue to align with their present life circumstances.
In the event something occurs that creates any conflict with your existing prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can easily adjust your contract to accommodate this new change. Work closely with your attorney to determine the scope of the changes you require and to ensure the modifications you apply are legally enforceable.
It is also possible to have your prenuptial agreement rendered null and void under certain circumstances. For example, an individual may only legally sign a contract if they have been fully and accurately informed about the contents of the contract. They must also be of sound mind and body, a legal adult, and sign under no threat of coercion or duress. If a person discovers that their prenuptial contract is unenforceable due to any of these issues, having the contract thrown out is a relatively straightforward process.
Find Legal Help With Prenuptial Agreements in St. Charles, MO
While it is technically possible to draft a prenuptial agreement on your own, it is unlikely for a couple to create a legally enforceable prenuptial agreement without the help of an experienced St. Charles, MO family law attorney. Your attorney can review all of the documentation you and your fiancée will need to create a comprehensive and legally binding prenuptial contract. They can also help you discern other areas that require consideration that you and your partner may have overlooked on your own. If you want to take full advantage of the benefits a solid prenuptial contract can offer, it is essential to work with an experienced St. Charles, MO family law attorney.