Prenuptial contracts are some of the most widely misunderstood elements of family law in the United States. If you are planning to marry in St. Charles, MO, it’s important to consider whether a prenuptial contract would be suitable for your situation. These contracts can provide financial security and peace of mind as you enter into a marriage. While many people assume that the suggestion of a prenuptial contract is offensive as it suggests a lack of faith that the marriage will last, many couples who draft prenuptial contracts find that the process of negotiating these contracts actually encourages closer communication and allows them to have difficult conversations early in their marriage, ultimately bringing them closer together.
What Should My Prenuptial Contract Include?
Ideally, a prenuptial contract should outline both spouses’ respective rights and responsibilities within their marriage. These contracts are particularly valuable for marrying couples who control substantial assets or have financial commitments to children from previous marriages. Ultimately, the prenuptial contract you draft may provide expansive legal protections and financial security to your children and also shield you from your new spouse’s debts.
Your prenuptial contract should include clear provisions for each spouse’s financial responsibilities in the marriage. For example, your contract may outline how much each spouse must contribute to mortgage payments and other household expenses. Your prenuptial contract should also outline each spouse’s debt responsibility, essentially shielding one another from each others’ debts.
Most prenuptial contracts also include postnuptial agreement clauses. These sections can essentially act as guides for divorce in the event the marriage does not last. For example, your postnuptial agreement could stipulate alimony terms based on multiple factors, outline each spouse’s separate property rights, and ensure that any financial commitments to children from previous marriages do not experience any adverse effects in the event of divorce.
How to Ensure Enforceability of Your Prenuptial Agreement
Drafting a contract is never easy. If you plan to implement a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, consult an attorney about your intentions. Many people draft their own prenuptial contracts only to later realize that they are entirely without legal merit for one reason or another. To ensure enforceability of your prenuptial contract, your attorney will help you cover all the legal requirements for enforceability:
- Both parties signing the prenuptial agreement must be of sound mind and have the ability to make legal decisions on their own behalf.
- Both signing parties must be over the age of 18.
- Both of the marrying spouses may not be already married. Bigamy will render a prenuptial contract concerning the bigamous marriage unenforceable.
- The contract may not include any illegal terms.
- The contact may not include any terms that seem to encourage divorce under any circumstances.
- The prenuptial agreement cannot include terms for personal issues, such as the frequency of sexual intimacy between the spouses or who gets to decide where they will spend their vacations.
- The contract cannot include any “unconscionable” terms or any terms that place undue stress or unrealistic expectations on one of the spouses.
There are many free tools and software applications a couple can use to draft their own prenuptial agreement. However, if you choose to try this, you should not assume that a prenuptial contract you drafted yourself using free tools will carry the same legal weight as a prenuptial contract drafted under the guidance of an experienced St. Charles, MO family law attorney.
Tips for Success With Your Prenuptial Agreement
If you plan on drafting a prenuptial agreement before getting married, keep the following tips in mind to ensure your prenuptial contract accomplishes its intended functions:
- Be ready to have some open, honest, and potentially uncomfortable conversations with your spouse-to-be. While discussing some of these issues can be difficult, these conversations will ultimately bolster your communication skills in your marriage.
- Prepare for financial disclosure. For your prenuptial agreement to provide the financial security you expect from it, both you and your spouse will need to disclose extensive financial records. Do not attempt to hide any assets or otherwise obfuscate your financial disclosure, as doing so can not only render your prenuptial contract unenforceable but also lead to legal penalties.
- Be prepared to revisit your prenuptial contract every few years. Life can present unexpected changes to anyone’s life. Your prenuptial agreement may seem sound enough for the foreseeable future, but it’s wise for you and your spouse to review it every few years to make sure it still applies to your lifestyle and expectations. If you need to alter your prenuptial agreement in light of recent life changes, consult your attorney.
- Work with a reliable and experienced family law attorney. If you want to ensure the enforceability of your prenuptial contract, it is best to work with an experienced St. Charles, MO family law attorney to develop it. Your attorney can help you cover the essential material that your contract must include and help you address any variables that you couldn’t discern on your own.
Following these tips can potentially help you have a much easier time developing your prenuptial contract in St. Charles, MO. However, you must also account for the issues that can easily render a prenuptial contract unenforceable as well. A prenuptial contract is not enforceable if either party signs it under threat, duress, or illegal coercion. A prenuptial contract can also be rendered unenforceable if it is later discovered that one spouse hid or obfuscated materially important information from the drafting process.
Work With a Trusted Attorney for Your Prenuptial Contract Drafting
Ultimately, one of the best steps you can take to ensure the enforceability of your prenuptial agreement is to work with an experienced St. Charles, MO divorce attorney for the drafting and signing of the contract. A good attorney will not only help you with the actual drafting process but also provide valuable legal guidance concerning the provisions that will suit you and your spouse the best, considering your circumstances. If you are planning to marry in the near future and believe that a prenuptial agreement is necessary for your situation, contact an experienced St. Charles, MO family law attorney as soon as possible.