It is not uncommon for couples to want to protect themselves financially even as they prepare for marriage. Whether you are protecting a business built from the ground up while you were single, or simply want to clarify the assets and debts both parties owned prior to the marriage, a prenuptial agreement is a crucial document to draft.
Unfortunately, many couples make common mistakes when drafting this type of contract. Here are five common errors that people can make:
- Ambiguous or unclear writing: Too often, couples approach their prenuptial agreement (prenup) from a position of kindness and insecurity when they should approach it like a business contract. Ambiguous or unclear writing should be avoided at all costs.
- Verbal contracts: Couples in love might overlook the legal process when preparing for their marriage but a verbal agreement is not legally binding.
- Unrealistic terms: It is not uncommon for couples to attempt to use a prenup to create schedules or agreements for marriage. Provisions that include scheduled intimacy, who completes what household chores or how much weight your spouse can gain are unrealistic and unenforceable.
- Terms for child custody and support: Couples might believe they are resolving a dispute before it comes up by including provisions for child support and child custody, but these provisions are unenforceable.
- Hidden assets: One of the most crucial aspects of a prenup is that both parties must have full disclosure. If one party does not disclose all his or her assets, properties and debts, the prenuptial agreement might be invalidated by the courts.
Couples are encouraged to make use of their own independent legal counsel. Additionally, couples should begin work on a prenup well in advance of the marriage to combat the appearance of duress or impropriety.
Whether you are coming into the marriage with assets from a previous marriage or from your single life, it is wise to draft a prenuptial agreement in case separation or divorce becomes a reality. While historically, these marital contracts have endured a negative connotation, they are now recognized as the codification system they were always intended to be.