Whether they hear cautionary anecdotes from friends and family or they see their treatment in movies, many couples are exposed to myths about prenuptial agreements in the time leading up to their wedding. It is important, however, to understand the myths and find the truth about these helpful documents.
- Myth #1: Prenups aren’t necessary unless at least one spouse is wealthy. Based in large part on the false information people pick up from popular media – books, movies, television shows, etc. – a prenuptial agreement doesn’t exist solely to protect a rich or famous spouse. Prenups are generally designed to prevent disputes centering on any marital asset from a family business, the home or even pets.
- Myth #2: You can include anything you want in a prenup. Technically, this is true. You can write numerous terms and provisions into the marital agreement. However, you run the risk of having a judge rule it invalid. Many people will attempt to include “lifestyle provisions” that include limits on weight gain, intercourse frequency or household chores, but these will likely violate the scope of the prenup.
- Myth #3: A prenup is simply planning for divorce. While it might seem true on the surface – the prenuptial agreement serves to minimize or eradicate numerous disputes should divorce become a reality – there are many other reasons. In fact, a carefully drafted prenuptial agreement can form the basis for your family’s comprehensive estate plan.
- Myth #4: Prenups are inflexible. While it is a legal document, the terms of a prenuptial agreement are not ironclad. In fact, it is not uncommon for divorcing couples to agree to an order that differs from the contract if one spouse has more money or assets than the other – and it is not accurately reflected in the prenup.
- Myth #5: You can wait until the 11th hour to sign a prenup. It is not uncommon for couples to agree to draft a prenuptial agreement but then put it off during the chaos of planning a wedding. Waiting until the very last moment, however, can give the appearance of coercion.
It is important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through this process. Marital agreements can be delicate matters and it is essential that no mistakes are made. Discuss your goals as soon as possible with a lawyer who can answer your questions.