9.7Susan M. Hais

A prenuptial agreement, also called an antenuptial agreement, is an agreement between two people who plan to marry. It outlines how the couple’s assets will be distributed when the marriage ends, either through divorce or the death of one of the spouses. Prenuptial agreements are obviously very sensitive as no one who is in love and planning a wedding wants to talk about dividing up property should the marriage fail. For that reason, most people don’t even want to think about a prenuptial agreement, but it is important to protect your interests and avoid conflict down the road.

If you have assets from a previous marriage that you want to make sure pass to your children rather than your new spouse, a prenuptial agreement will list the property you are bringing into the marriage and keep it separate from your common assets. After years of cohabitation, couples tend to forget who brought what into the marriage. A prenuptial agreement memorializes ownership so that there is not a big battle over who really owns the Baccarat crystal. This precaution will make sure that your estate plan is executed according to your wishes. If it’s clear that a ring belonged to your grandmother, it will be easier to make sure your daughter receives it and thus prevent a legal battle over the distribution of your property.

Prenuptial agreements are also common when one future-spouse brings in significantly more assets into the marriage than the other. These can be tricky because of the power imbalance between the person with significant assets and the person without. That’s one reason why each party must have his or her own attorney. At Hais, Hais & Goldberger, we have guided hundreds of people through this delicate process. Although negotiating a prenuptial agreement is not an adversarial–it is, after all, an agreement between two people who love each other–you deserve someone who is devoted to protecting your interests. You need to know what assets or debts your fiancé might have. An experienced lawyer can insist on full disclosure without causing tension in the relationship and then work with you and your future spouse to design the financial framework for your marriage that fits both of your needs.

For additional information on prenuptial agreements and our family law practice, please contact us today.