Premarital agreements set forth a couple’s intentions and understanding as to how they will generally manage and share their finances during the marriage, and in the event the marriage dissolves. While anticipating a marriage’s end before it begins might seem unromantic, a prenuptial agreement (prenup) offers transparency, and can establish reasonable expectations and remove significant stress.
A Milford prenuptial agreements lawyer works with all types of couples to develop agreements to suit their specific circumstances. If another firm drafted the prenup, one of our marital agreements attorneys can review it to ensure the language achieves the intended purposes and everyone is apprised of its implications.
Although a perception persists that only wealthy people need prenups, many couples may find they can benefit from one. Conversely, it is also important to understand where a prenup may not be in your best interests. Understanding the distinction between marital and separate property is critical to understanding the value of a prenup.
Connecticut is an all property state, meaning anything either spouse owns at the date of separation is marital property. Marital property includes assets a spouse owned before marriage, inheritances, or gifts. Both spouses have a right to equitable distribution of anything they own as a couple and anything either spouse owns individually unless a valid prenuptial agreement excludes it from the marital property pool.
Prenups allow fiancés to set aside specific property as theirs alone. A Milford lawyer can advise a fiancé about what to consider when designating assets as separate in a prenuptial agreement.
If a fiancé owns real estate before marriage or anticipates receiving inheritances or stakes in family businesses, they can claim these assets as separate property in a prenup. Such a contract can protect family property and ensure preservation for future generations. If one of the parties has children from a previous relationship, a prenup allows them to segregate specific property for their children’s benefit in the event of a sudden passing or divorce. Similarly, premarital agreements protect parties from each other’s preexisting debt, or liabilities associated with separate property.
Apart from segregating personal property during a marriage, prenups are useful for other purposes. A couple can decide how to divide marital property in a prenup. Doing so before marriage eases the property division process if the couple eventually dissolves the marriage, while also offering certainty as to what their financial circumstances will look like in such an event.
The couple can discuss spousal support (alimony) in the prenup. They can describe the amount of support one spouse may expect to receive, make it contingent on the marriage enduring for a specified period, or create other individually tailored arrangements. If appropriate, parties may waive spousal support, although a court can potentially decline to enforce a waiver if it leaves a spouse in need of public assistance.
A couple cannot decide issues related to child support or custody in a premarital agreement. While fiancés may want to state their preferences for child custody and visitation in a prenup, such a document has no legal enforceability. A court must review any arrangements impacting children at the time of separation, and where circumstances have changed or a prenuptial agreement fails to represent the children’s best interests, it will be disregarded. An attorney in Milford can discuss the elements a couple should address in their prenuptial agreement.
When couples divorce, either spouse can challenge the prenup, although there may be contractual consequences associated with doing so where such an attempt is unsuccessful. Connecticut courts will honor prenups if they satisfy the statutory requirements, but judges have the power to set aside a provision or the entire agreement in certain circumstances. Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-36g describes the enforceability of prenups. An oral prenup is not enforceable; both parties must sign the contract in writing. A judge has grounds to set aside a prenup if:
Couples should leave ample time before the wedding to work on their prenup. Each fiancé must prepare a financial disclosure, which could be time-consuming if either has significant holdings or interests in businesses or trusts. Each party must have time to consult their own Milford lawyer about the risks and benefits of the premarital agreement. If negotiations continue near the wedding date, a party might have grounds to assert undue pressure, which a court can interpret as signing involuntarily.
Prenups allow an engaged couple to enter their marriage with confidence they will be treated fairly if the marriage ends. This contract can provide each spouse with a sense of security. Each party to a prenup must have their own legal counsel, and a Milford prenuptial agreements attorney is ready to help. Call today to schedule an appointment to discuss if a prenup is right for you.