By now, everyone knows someone who has had to cancel a major event due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Unfortunately, this is the case for many weddings that were planned months and years in advance, and will now have to be rescheduled due to travel bans and restrictions on groups. Engagements are now prolonged, perhaps indefinitely, due to this global pandemic.
The silver lining, if there is one, might be that these couples now have the time to focus on a prenuptial agreement.
What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (also referred to as a “prenup” or a “premarital agreement”) is a legal contract that is signed prior to getting married, which sets forth what will happen to the couples’ finances in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement may include provisions regarding the division of assets, payment of expenses and liabilities, the calculation (or exclusion) of alimony, responsibility for attorney’s fees, and provisions in the event of a spouse’s death.
Who Should Have A Prenuptial Agreement?
While anyone who is getting married can have a prenuptial agreement, it is most commonly used when one or both parties have assets or income that they would like to protect. In Connecticut, all assets, regardless of how they were obtained or titled, are considered a “marital asset” and subject to equitable division in the event of a divorce. In other words, all assets part of the marital pot, unless they are specifically excluded or addressed in a prenuptial (or post-nuptial) agreement. Accordingly, many couples who may have already been married, have accumulated wealth, and/or would like to pass assets on to their children, utilize prenuptial agreements.
Prenuptial agreements can also protect assets that haven’t been received yet. If you are engaged, and you are the beneficiary of a trust, own a piece of a family business, or expect an inheritance, a prenup can assist you in determining what happens to these future assets in the event of a divorce.
How Do I Discuss The Idea Of A Prenuptial Agreement With my Fiancé?
Every relationship has a different dynamic. Sometimes couples arrive at our office having already negotiated terms of an agreement between themselves. Other times, we receive calls from a worried fiancé, asking how to best approach a future spouse with the concept of a prenuptial agreement. We are even approached by well-meaning parents of the bride or groom, who have a direct interest in keeping their child’s future assets protected! It is not uncommon for grown children to be in the dark regarding the estate plans of his or her parents.
Whether you are engaged and want to discuss the idea of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé, or you are a parent who wants to encourage your child to sign into a prenup prior to marriage, the best policy is honesty. Now is the time to have an open and honest discussion about what the potential concerns are, what the assets (or debt!) consist of, and what you hope to accomplish by agreeing to settlement terms now. In Connecticut, in order for a prenuptial agreement to be enforced, there is a requirement for full and fair disclosure—meaning, each spouse must fully disclose any and all assets, holdings, liabilities, and income at the time of signing. It is not a good idea to wait until the last minute before the wedding to approach these issues. Now is the time to put it all out on the table and to have a frank and level-headed discussion.
At Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie LLC, we frequently consult with clients who have questions about whether a prenuptial agreement would be right for them and we have significant experience representing clients who want to best protect themselves in the drafting and negotiation of a prenuptial agreement.