Prenuptial agreements, also referred to as prenups, are contracts that you and your fiancé can enter before marrying. These agreements cover how you as a couple will handle financial matters if you get divorced as well as handling your assets if one of you predeceases the other.
Historically, prenuptial agreements have gotten a bad rap. Some stereotypes exist that a requesting a prenup implies that the marriage will fail. However, this could not be farther from the truth. A prenup can prove extremely valuable for all couples, especially those with substantial wealth or children from a previous marriage. More and more people now see the benefit of thinking through finances and property division issues before getting married.
If you and your fiancé want to learn more about how a prenup could benefit your relationship, a dedicated marital agreements attorney at Jones Family Law Group, LLC is here to help. A Des Peres prenuptial agreement lawyer at our firm could draft a prenup that provides you and your fiancé peace of mind and sets you up for success in your marriage. Contact us today to discuss your needs during a private consultation.
Prenups Allow a Couple to Maintain Control
Missouri Revised Statutes §452.330 requires divorcing couples to divide their marital property equitably. Prenuptial agreements supersede what the state decides about how to divide your assets and determines which assets are considered separate or marital property. Without a prenup, dividing assets you acquired prior to marriage, through inheritance, or by gift can get messy and complicated.
If you and your spouse pursue a divorce without agreeing in advance on these issues, a judge will decide for you. Overall, a prenup helps you retain control over how you and your future spouse will handle your finances, distribute specific assets, and protect yourself if you get divorced or pass away.
A skilled attorney serving Des Peres could help you and your fiancé determine what topics your prenuptial agreement should cover. It should list each partner’s assets and designate some or all of them as separate property. Doing so ensures your assets will not be treated as marital property in the event of your death or divorce. The prenup could designate other property, like the family home or a business, as the property of one spouse. A prenup could also cover issues such as spousal maintenance (alimony), debt, and which partner must pay for health insurance.
Legal Requirements for Prenuptial Agreements
Many states have adopted specific legislation about prenups, but Missouri has not. Basic contract law principles apply to prenups. An enforceable prenup must be in writing and signed by both you and your fiancé.
According to case law in Missouri, you and your fiancé must sign the agreement freely, knowingly, willingly and without undue pressure. The agreement must be conscionable, meaning that it does not favor one party to the severe detriment of the other. You and your fiancé must fully disclose your assets, debts, and income before either party signs the prenup.
You should each have separate Des Peres attorneys review the prenuptial agreement, explain its terms, and advise you about its fairness. Courts are more likely to enforce a prenup if each party has access to their own legal advice.
Enforceability of a Prenup
Courts usually enforce a prenup that meets the legal requirements described above. However, courts sometimes overturn an agreement if a spouse challenges it. A knowledgeable attorney serving Des Peres could advise whether challenging a prenuptial agreement might succeed in a specific case.
In considering whether to enforce a prenup, a judge will evaluate whether each spouse made full financial disclosure to the other before signing the agreement. Hiding assets or debts could invalidate a prenup. The judge will also consider whether you or your fiancé felt pressured to sign.
The judge will also determine whether the agreement is conscionable, meaning not so unfair that it shocks the conscience. It is acceptable for one party to benefit more from a prenup than the other, but if the prenup leaves one party well-off and the other impoverished, a court might invalidate it.
Learn More from a Des Peres Prenuptial Agreement Attorney Today
Taking the time to consider how you and your fiancé plan to handle finances in the future could help give you peace of mind and clarity moving forward. Having reasonable expectations in financial matters is important to a marriage’s success. Many couples who utilize prenups never get divorced, but the planning and communication with your fiancé could help you grow closer.
Schedule a consultation with a Des Peres prenuptial agreement lawyer today to learn more about the benefits of this contract. Contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC to learn more from a compassionate attorney.