Does the notion of a prenuptial agreement taint the romance between couples who seek to be married? This is a question that has vexed people as prenups have become bigger part of our culture. On the one hand, it is prudent to think about the future and plan for the unexpected. It follows the old adage “if you prepare for the worst, you can expect the best.”
On the other hand, planning for the possible break-up of a marriage tacitly suggests one (or both) parties may not be ready to tie the knot. Whatever the opinion you hold, it is important to know how prenuptial agreements can affect how a couple’s assets are divided during divorce.
Prenups can be best understood in the context of how community property is determined. Essentially, all property (and income) accumulated during the marriage is presumed to be property of the marital estate, and is to be divided equally. Essentially, the law presumes that both parties contributed equally to the marriage and should leave the union with equal portions of the estate.
Conversely, a prenuptial agreement can set basic guidelines for how property is to be divided and allow parties to leave the marriage with what they purchased (or earned). It creates a contract around the notion of “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours.” So a high wage earner may be able to leave a marriage without “sacrificing” her fortune by following community property laws.
However, prenuptial agreements are not absolute, and in many cases, can be challenged. If you have questions about how they may work, contact an experienced family law attorney.