4 reasons every couple can benefit from drafting a prenuptial agreement

Prenuptial agreements can help people protect their dependents and property, establish financial expectations and secure better outcomes during divorce.

Signing prenuptial agreements has become an increasingly common practice for engaged couples. According to The Wall Street Journal, a 2013 survey of one professional group of attorneys found that 63 percent had noticed an increase in prenuptial agreements over the past three years. These contracts, which were once considered appropriate only for famous and high-asset individuals, are now often viewed as an essential precaution for any couple.

Despite the growing popularity of these agreements, many people in Clarksville may question the necessity of drafting one. Although drawing up a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage might not sound especially romantic or appealing, engaged couples should strongly consider the following benefits before ruling out the option.

1. Setting marital expectations

Couples who create prenuptial agreements can better understand each other's expectations about how marital property and finances will be handled. Drafting an agreement gives couples an opportunity to discuss issues such as the following:

  • Will valuable property, such as real estate or investments, be held in the name of one spouse or jointly owned?
  • Will each spouse be willing to pay alimony if the other spouse gives up career opportunities to support the marriage?
  • Will premarital debts remain solely the responsibility of the spouse who incurred them?

As Forbes notes, financial issues such as these are a common cause of discord and stress among married couples. Discussing these potential stumbling blocks early can help couples avoid unrealistic expectations and unnecessary conflict. As a result, creating a prenuptial agreement may actually lower a couple's likelihood of eventually separating.

2. Protecting other family members

People who already have children or other dependents should also consider signing prenuptial agreements to protect the interests of those family members. According to Fox News, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that assets will be divided in a way that enables each spouse to fully support his or her dependents. This type of outcome is not guaranteed if property is divided in divorce court.

3. Keeping separate property separate

Prenuptial agreements can also benefit people who own property with significant value. Fox News notes that, after years of marriage, it may be difficult for spouses to remember which person originally owned specific property. A prenuptial agreement can outline which property belongs to each spouse. According to Forbes, these agreements also can protect spouses from losing property with special sentimental value that extends beyond its financial value.

4. Simplifying the divorce process

Prenuptial agreements let spouses address many potentially contentious aspects of divorce while they are capable of working together cooperatively. A prenuptial agreement can stipulate how property is characterized and divided, and it can also establish spousal support obligations. If a couple ultimately decides to separate, a prenuptial agreement can save time and money, and it can produce a settlement that better suits the couple's circumstances.

As Forbes notes, people who don't sign prenuptial agreements essentially opt for an agreement established under state law instead. If couples in Tennessee can't come to terms on property division, state law requires an "equitable" division, which can be subjective. Similarly, alimony is awarded based on nonobjective criteria. In some cases, neither spouse may find the final settlement favorable. With a prenuptial agreement, couples can identify a mutually advantageous way to handle these issues during divorce.

Creating enforceable agreements

Drafting a prenuptial agreement can be complex. Agreeing to terms may be difficult for many spouses, and the final legal document must meet various criteria to be enforceable. To avoid oversights or missteps that render the agreement invalid, engaged couples should strongly consider seeking legal assistance when drawing up these agreements.