Myths About Premarital Agreements

Often, people talk themselves out of preparing a premarital agreement based on erroneous assumptions or flawed information. The law offers certain recourse for couples who have made premarital agreements. Despite this, some people choose not to file such an arrangement, but they should consider it. Common myths surrounding premarital agreements include:

Preparing a Premarital Agreement Is Costly

When compared with the cost of filing a premarital agreement, divorce is expensive. Without a premarital agreement in place, it’s necessary to negotiate every detail of the divorce. Negotiations between two people madly in love and looking forward to spending their lives together are likely to be more productive than negotiations between two people who have decided to divorce. The relatively small investment to create a premarital agreement is nothing compared to the cost of a divorce without one.

Only Older, Established People Need One

Young couples don’t usually have many assets at the time of marriage. However, if a premarital agreement is not in place, all assets acquired during marriage may be in dispute. The “what’s mine is yours” concept feels good at the beginning of a life together, but that could change if the marriage fails. When one spouse experiences great professional success, sharing the financial results with someone he or she no longer loves may not be appealing. It may not feel fair to split an asset 50/50 if making the purchase was possible due to an inheritance. Working out the details before getting married also helps young couples work through financial considerations they may not have thought of yet.

Online Forms Are Cheaper

An experienced family law attorney asks questions to gain a thorough understanding of what the client’s intention is. Then, the attorney translates the intention into an enforceable agreement aligned with the laws of the governing state. An online form can’t do that. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits all approach to premarital agreements.

Premarital Agreements Must Be Exhaustive

It’s completely up to the couple to decide what they want to include in their premarital agreement. A good family law attorney will give advice, but it’s up to the couple to decide how much or little they want to include. Some common issues included are:

  • Premarital assets
  • Assets acquired during marriage
  • Death of a spouse
  • Spousal support
  • Pension contributions

Premarital Agreements Are to Protect the More Affluent Spouse

The media helps spread this pervasive myth, but it isn’t true. A well-crafted premarital agreement offers protection to both spouses. Without a premarital agreement in place, the spouse with fewer personal assets may not be able to afford to fight for his or her fair share during a divorce and could end up with far less. A court may disregard a premarital agreement weighted completely for one spouse.

We Only Need One Lawyer

Although it’s certainly legal to share a family law attorney, it generally makes the divorce more complicated rather than less. One way to limit the cost of drafting the agreement is for the couple to privately discuss what they want to include. After creating a preliminary draft of the agreement, best practice is to use two separate lawyers to finalize it. The two attorneys will work together to draft the final product. Sharing an attorney can be risky. One spouse may claim to have not understood the agreement before signing it, and the court could decide to invalidate it.

It can feel awkward to broach the subject of a premarital agreement. Some couples overcome the challenge by including it in a general conversation about estate planning. All couples should discuss things like wills, trusts, medical directives, and powers of attorney. A premarital agreement is a natural part of an estate plan. Learning how to engage in difficult discussions about finances before walking down the aisle can strengthen a relationship and create a happier marriage.