It’s wedding season—that time of year when people are happily planning the ceremonies that will formalize their relationships for a lifetime—at least that’s the plan. They’re caught up in the celebrations—showers, gatherings of families and friends, the bacchanals of bachelor and bachelorette parties. But these days, we’re seeing pragmatic couples adding one more item to their wedding planning to-do lists: a Prenuptial Agreement.
While few couples are thinking about divorce as they plan their weddings, an estimated 50% of all marriages in America end up in divorce. A Prenuptial Agreement establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. While this may seem like a negative way to be starting a relationship, couples who’ve been married or in long-term relationships know there’s a lot of negotiation and compromise that takes place as they learn to live together and raise a family. Creating this initial contract together a good place to start.
Who needs a Prenuptial Agreement?
When George Clooney married human-rights attorney Amal Alamuddin, he apparently did not require her to sign a Prenuptial Agreement. While Amal is a partner in a prestigious British law firm, she can hardly match her husband’ earning power. Clooney consistently chooses meaningful films that are box-office hits, earning him an estimated $20M/film. Clooney has lavish homes in Venice, LA and now in Oxfordshire and is worth some $220M. Yet if we can believe what we read in the tabloids, unlike so many of his wealthy celebrity colleagues, Clooney did not protect himself with a Prenuptial Agreement.
We don’t have George Clooney’s problem
Unfortunately, most of us don’t have $220M in assets that we need to protect from a potential vindictive spouse. These days, however, many couples are not so young when they get married—they may be in their late 20s or early-mid 30s. They’ve graduated from college and grad school, held well-paying jobs, built careers that will continue to reward them with a growing income. They have acquired assets and own their own homes. They’ve worked hard, are pragmatic and independent and feel the need to protect themselves when they marry; a Prenuptial Agreement is becoming increasingly common for many of these couples.
Blended families create the need to protect assets for children
America’s high divorce rate has also fueled the need for prenups. Many divorced couples remarry, and when they do, things often get a lot more complicated. They’re entering these new marriages--not just with assets, but with dependents. They want to protect their assets so that if something happens to them, it’s their children who will become the beneficiaries—not necessarily the new spouse and his/her progeny.
Attorney review: A very good idea
Because a Prenuptial Agreement deals with the property rights of the marrying parties, it is advisable for both parties to have separate and independent attorneys review the agreement. Certain provisions, such as giving up the right to spousal support, are unenforceable if the party who later wants support (in a divorce proceeding) did not have an independent attorney explain the agreement to that party. California Document Preparers has relationships with excellent local attorneys and can provide referrals for the reviews. Combining quality legal document assistance with legal advice is an excellent use of your legal dollars.