Does Your December Engagement Ring Mean You Need a Prenup in the New Year?
Congratulations on the engagement! That’s probably not what you’d expect a divorce attorney to say, but I assure you, it’s a sincere congratulations. If being a divorce attorney for over a quarter of a century has taught me anything, it’s that the institution of marriage can be a beautiful experience that benefits both spouses in many ways through the years. Believe it or not, some of my divorce attorney colleagues also have the longest marriages I personally know about.
If you and your significant other have chosen this holiday season to get engaged, it’s only a matter of time before you will embark on your (hopefully) life-long journey of marriage. As exciting as that is, in today’s modern world, where couples are waiting longer before ‘taking the leap’ into marriage, it’s important to consider all the potential legal aspects involved before tying the knot. One of the most important questions you should ask yourself is, “Do I need a prenuptial agreement?”
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (a/k/a “prenup”) is typically a contract that is drawn up and signed by two people before they get married. This agreement can outline each person’s rights and responsibilities throughout their marital relationship, but more importantly, it will also include how they agree assets will be divided if they divorce. This typically includes things like property, investments, businesses, debts, pensions, alimony payments, and more. It’s important for both parties to understand exactly what the document entails and have sufficient time to engage in full financial disclosure and get legal advice from skilled family law attorneys before they sign it in the presence of a witness and their attorney.
When Should We Get a Prenup?
The answer to this question depends on each couple’s individual circumstances, and there’s no way to judge one couple’s need to another’s because there are far too many variables to analyze. A good rule of thumb, however, is to review your assets and financial portfolio. If you have considerable assets prior to getting married – such as real estate or investments – it might be wise to get a prenup so that those assets remain separate (i.e., designated as pre-marital) from any joint assets that might be acquired during the marriage. Additionally, if either you or your partner has reason to believe that you will inherit a significant estate from a family member in the future, it may be wise to create a prenup that determines how those assets will be handled in the event of divorce.
It’s also worth noting that if you don’t get a prenup now but later decide that one is necessary, it’s not too late! Those agreements (called “postnuptial agreements”) can serve essentially the same purpose as prenups, but they are drawn up and executed after the marriage rather than prior to it. However, postnuptial agreements can be more difficult to enforce, and you may find yourself unable to fully protect certain assets if you choose to wait.
Doesn’t the Prenup Mean I Don’t Believe the Marriage Will Last
This is certainly a concern for some, especially couples who are still in the lovely-dovey phase post-engagement (yes, that’s a real thing). No one wants to intentionally put a damper on the romance by thinking about the “business” end of a marriage. But here’s the thing, getting a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean you don’t believe in the strength of your relationship. Instead, it simply means that you are taking a practical step to protect both your partner and yourself in the event anything were to happen down the line that seems impossible during the early days of your romance.
In fact, many couples find that having this conversation about their finances can actually strengthen their relationship by introducing a greater level of openness and honesty. Many pre-marital counseling courses advocate for these tough discussions to take place as soon after the engagement as possible to avoid sinking thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars into planning a wedding with someone who may not be your most compatible match for marriage.
At the end of the day, getting a prenuptial agreement is an incredibly personal decision that should be discussed with your partner and weighed against your individual financial situation. It can bring peace of mind and, ultimately, security to a marriage before it even starts – which isn’t such a terrible thing.
No matter when you decide to get married – next year or otherwise – it’s always smart to consider whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your partner. A good family law attorney can help guide you through this decision-making process and make sure you fully understand everything involved in creating such an agreement. Don’t allow the excitement and romance of your recent engagement to overshadow the need for you and your betrothed to address the important legal details of your future life together. Doing this together now may be the secret to your marriage’s solid foundation standing the test of time.
If you’re in South Carolina, it’s important to contact an experienced family court attorney like J. Benjamin Stevens today to discuss your specific situation. Even if you aren’t in South Carolina, Mr. Stevens is happy to offer referrals to a well-qualified attorney located in your state. Ben Stevens has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over twenty-five years, handling all matters of family law, such as prenuptial agreements, divorce, separation, alimony, and child custody. Our firm is well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
Related Articles by Mr. Stevens:
Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
ABOUT J. BENJAMIN STEVENS
Ben.Stevens@offitkurman.com | 864.598.9172
Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina. His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 19 offices and more than 280 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
CALIFORNIA | DELAWARE | MARYLAND | NEW JERSEY | NEW YORK | NORTH CAROLINA | PENNSYLVANIA |SOUTH CAROLINA | VIRGINIA | WASHINGTON, DC