No longer just the domain of the rich and powerful, prenuptial agreements are quickly being utilized by the average American at the time of marriage to protect their assets in the event of separation down the road. While it’s not the most exciting part of planning for a wedding and can sometimes seem to put a damper on the celebration, it is powerful legal protection for both parties with the divorce rate what it is today.
Rather than think of it as an omen of separation, consider that you would not enter into any other major agreement of this nature without properly protecting yourself, including a business venture. Here’s what you need to know about prenuptial agreements, colloquially known as ‘prenups’, in Pennsylvania.
They are binding and enforceable. If you have a professionally written prenup, it will be upheld during divorce proceedings provided that it is free of fraud and all assets were properly disclosed as it was being written up. It cannot be made or signed under duress, but this is one instance were threatening to call off a wedding if the document is not signed does not constitute duress, as it should be a stipulation for a concerned party before entering into a marital union.
During the proceedings of writing a prenup, it is highly encouraged that both parties find the professional legal counsel of their own to advise them of their best options during this time.
What should it include? There are a number of situations that can and should be covered under your new prenuptial agreement. This includes a division of assets upon separation, including both divorce and death. It can dictate property rights and the ability and timing of child support. It can be made to become void after having been instituted for a number of years into the marriage.
Many high profile instances of prenups, including some of those between celebrities, make specific provisions for cases of cheating or even a spouse failing to keep up specific cosmetic appearances. Overall, the most important part of the prenuptial agreement is that it will go into effect after the wedding is officiated, and the instructions set forth in the document will be utilized at the end of the union, for whatever reason that might be.
Divorce vs. Death. The two main reasons that a prenup will be put into action is when the union ends either by divorce or death. These have their own specific ways of dividing assets, and also interact with whatever wills have been drawn up and specific laws for your state. In Pennsylvania, the property is known either as separate or marital, which has to do with the time when it was purchased, if it was a gift or inheritance and who was the primary purchaser of the property.
Use a Lawyer. Drawing up a legally binding prenuptial agreement is no easy task, and you should trust the services of an accomplished legal professional to help you do so. For more information about our experience with these documents at Smith and Horowitz, the Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers, give us a call today at (215) 515-8464.