What you need to know about creating a prenuptial agreement

Marriage usually feels like forever. But marriages end every day, and it is in your best interest to be as prepared as possible.

Prenuptial agreements can protect you if your marriage ends in divorce. While prenups are useful, they are not a catch-all protection. Prenups still must comply with Pennsylvania state law, otherwise your agreement may not be enforceable.

What should I put in my prenuptial?

Just like no two marriages are the same, your prenup should be unique to your relationship and situation. Although there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to crafting a prenup, most prenups cover some or all of the following:

  • Property division — outline what property is separate, what is marital and how to divide the latter.
  • Debt — limit your liability if your future spouse has tons of debt.
  • Marital responsibilities — decide how you will handle your finances, business, household bills and more.

If you have kids from a past relationship, you can use a prenup to make sure that some of your property is set aside for them. You can also protect family heirlooms and inheritances from ending up in your ex’s hands.

Avoid these topics

Just because you write something down and then sign it does not mean that a judge has to uphold its contents. In fact, there are many things that you cannot include in your prenup. For example, you cannot determine child custody or support using a prenup, and for good reason. Custody centers around a child’s interests while support is based off parents’ incomes, both of which may change in the time between creating a prenup and divorcing.

You also cannot set rules regarding your and your spouse’s personal behavior. A prenup is not the place to list out who is responsible for which chores and where you will spend certain holidays, and judges do not generally uphold these provisions.

Is a prenuptial agreement right for me?

You may be wondering if you can really benefit from a prenuptial agreement. Many see these documents as useful for the wealthy or as fuel for divorce, but neither of these are really true. Anyone who has any type of asset to their name can benefit from a prenup.

Creating a prenuptial agreement can be complicated, especially if you are not familiar with Pennsylvania family law. For most people, having knowledgeable counsel review an agreement prior to signing will not only ensure that a judge will uphold it, but that it truly protects that person’s interests.


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