A premarital agreement is a written contract created and signed by two people in
contemplation of marriage. The agreement typically lists all of the property each
person owns, as well as their debts, and it specifies what each person's property
rights will be after they marry. Premarital agreements often specify how property
will be divided and whether spousal support (alimony) will be paid in the event
of a divorce. In addition, an agreement may set out the couple's intentions about
distributing property after one of them dies.
Premarital contracts are enforceable only if they are made when a couple is contemplating
marriage. Courts won't uphold agreements of a non-monetary nature. In Kentucky ,
couples are prohibited from making binding provisions about child support payments.
While prenups are often used to protect the assets of a wealthy fiancée,
couples of more modest means are increasingly turning to them for their own purposes.
- A premarital agreement can protect the inheritance rights of children and grandchildren
from a previous marriage.
- If you have your own business or professional practice, a premarital agreement can
protect that interest so that the business or practice is not divided and subject
to the control or involvement of your former spouse upon divorce.
- If one spouse has significantly more debt than the other, a premarital agreement
can protect the debt-free spouse from having to assume the obligations of the other.
- If you plan to give up a lucrative career after the marriage, a premarital agreement
can ensure that you will be compensated for that sacrifice if the marriage does
- A premarital agreement can address more than the financial aspects of marriage,
and can cover any of the details of decision-making and responsibility sharing to
which the parties agree in advance.
- A premarital agreement can limit the amount of spousal support that one spouse will
have to pay the other upon divorce.
- A premarital agreement can protect the financial interests of older persons, persons
who are entering into second or subsequent marriages, and persons with substantial
- The agreement may require you to give up your right to inherit from your spouse's
estate when he or she dies. Under the law, you are entitled to a portion of the
estate even if your spouse does not include such a provision in his or her will.
- If you contribute to the continuing success and growth of your spouse's business
or professional practice by entertaining clients and taking care of the home, etc.,
thus allowing him or her to focus on professional endeavors, you may not be entitled
to claim a share of the increase in value if you agree otherwise in a premarital
agreement. Under the laws of many states, this increase in value would be considered
divisible marital property.
- Starting a relationship with a contract that sets forth the particulars of what
will happen upon death or divorce can engender a sense of lack of trust.
- It can be difficult to project into the future about how potential issues should
be handled, and what may seem like an inconsequential compromise in the romantic
premarital period may seem more monumental and burdensome in reality.
- A low- or non-wage-earning spouse may not be able to sustain the lifestyle to which
he or she has become accustomed during the marriage if the agreement substantially
limits the amount of spousal support to which that spouse is entitled.
- In the "honeymoon" stage of a relationship, one spouse may agree to terms
that are not in his or her best interests because he or she is "too in love"
to be concerned about the financial aspects and can't imagine the union coming to
an untimely end.