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Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements (sometimes referred to as a “prenup” or a premarital agreement) may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in family law. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract between two parties—entered into before a marriage—defining the intentions of the parties regarding division of property, debts, and responsibilities in the event of divorce or death of one of the parties.

Prenuptial Agreements and Divorce

Many people think discussing and planning for the possibility of a divorce before marriage is bound to doom the marriage. However, discussing assets and debts before the marriage may actually strengthen the relationship. This discussion forces couples to consider both their own views, and their partner’s views about money, property, and other tangible assets. Additionally, prenuptial agreements address what happens in the event of the death of one of the parties. Any marriage which doesn’t end in divorce will, eventually, end in death. Prenuptial agreements protect the parties and their wishes.

Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement

Some people think prenuptial agreements are only for the very wealthy. While it is a good idea for very wealthy people to have prenuptial agreements, many others would also benefit from such agreements. People who should consider a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Business owners;
  • Property owners;
  • People with more than $50,000 in assets;
  • People who have retirement benefits, stock options, profit sharing, and/or deferred compensation accounts from their employer;
  • Those who make (or who are expected to make) over $70,000 per year;
  • Those who wish to pass on certain property or assets, such as a treasured family heirloom, to someone other than their spouse.

Prenuptial Agreements and Adult Children

More people are marrying for a second time. Many of those couples have adult children. A prenuptial agreement allows couples to identify and agree upon property and assets which will go to the adult children. Without a prenuptial agreement, and in the absence of a will, ordinary rights of inheritance may result in the property going to the spouse, rather than the adult children.

Prenuptial Agreements and Family Businesses

When a family owns a business, a prenuptial agreement can clearly delineate what will happen to the business in the event of divorce or death of the party. A prenuptial agreement provides families peace of mind, because it can remove the family business from divorce negotiations, should the parties later divorce. Additionally, in the case of death, the prenuptial agreement can dictate such terms as whether the spouse becomes part owner of the business, the adult children of the deceased become owners of the shares, whether the family business simply belongs to the remaining family members, or some other scenario.

Reasons to Discuss a Prenuptial Agreement

If you are getting married, it is a good idea to meet with a qualified family law attorney in Cincinnati to discuss your prenuptial agreement needs. Zachary D. Smith dedicates his practice to family law issues. A problem solver who thinks outside the box and will help you set the legal foundation of your marriage the right way. For further information or to schedule an appointment please contact Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.


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