Prenuptial Agreements: Not Just for the Rich and Famous

By Dana Lowy, Partner

Prenuptial agreements, once reserved for Hollywood stars and the scions of moneyed families, are becoming a prerequisite to marriage even for those who are not fabulously wealthy. A recent poll by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that nearly three quarters of attorneys surveyed cited an uptick in prenuptial agreements over the last five years.

A marriage is a financial as well as an emotional partnership. In this shaky economy, clients feel more protective of their assets and financial futures.  While a well-drafted prenuptial agreement can help avoid a costly, acrimonious divorce in the event that the marriage ends, it can also empower both partners to make future financial decisions with honesty, openness and mutual respect.

If you fit into one of these categories, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement (or a post-nuptial agreement if already married):

1. Business Owners
If you own a business, a family law attorney can help draft a prenup that defines the parties’ expectations regarding the income, appreciation, and valuation of a business

2. High Net Worth Families
If you stand to inherit significant assets, a prenup can protect your future inheritance and the income derived therefrom.  Lowy notes that wealthy parents often initiate the proceedings on behalf of a child about to marry.

3. High-Profile Careers
If you are embarking upon what could be a highly lucrative career (such as professional athlete, entertainer, doctor or high-tech entrepreneur), a well-drafted prenup can define the spousal support that would be provided, regardless of your future financial success.

4. Mature Adults
Older adults, particularly those with children from a prior relationship and those who are veterans of an acrimonious divorce, tend to see the value of prenups.

If any of these situations apply to you, a good first step is to schedule an informational consultation.  In these meetings, we review and discuss your assets, financial situation and goals, and can also offer suggestions on how to broach the subject of a prenup with your future spouse.

Finally, it’s important to know that prenuptial negotiations don’t have to be combative.  When we’re finished signing, it’s not uncommon to have hugs all around the table.