When to sign a Prenuptial Agreement

More and more people are using prenuptial agreements. The belief that a prenuptial agreement is only for the rich and famous is fading away. Increasingly, prenups are becoming more widely used. But can the timing of the prenup be an issue?

Prenuptial Agreement

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

These days, the prenup has become more important than ever. People are marrying when they are older, and better informed about the implications of marriage. Many people have married before. So, more people look for prenuptial agreements.

Prenuptial agreements aren’t just for people entering second marriages, they are important for any couple planning to marry. I have written extensively on prenuptial agreements.

A prenup can help keep your non-marital property yours. The property you brought into the marriage is yours – mostly. But over time it is common for people to start mixing things up. Inheritance funds get deposited into joint accounts; properties get transferred into joint names…and all for good reason.

Unfortunately, tracing commingled property is expensive, and hard to prove. But, if you put it in writing at the beginning, you might be able to avoid this task, and save some money down the road.

Prenuptial agreements also help you to change the law. For example, right now in Florida, there has been an ongoing debate about alimony. When you go to court, a judge has to follow state law regarding alimony.

However, through prenuptial agreements you can modify Florida’s legal standards for awarding alimony, in addition to modifying what the current law says about the amount of support and the duration of the alimony period.

Second Marriages

For second marriages, a prenup is an especially good idea. What some clients don’t realize is that going through a second, third, or fourth divorce can be more complicated than first-time divorces.

In multiple divorces, couples are older, and have less time to make up for losses. Also, couples are competing for dwindling resources. Child-support, alimony, and dividing up of the retirement accounts may still be pending, and there can be little left to divide in a second divorce.

Some can simply state what assets each party has brought into the marriage, and what assets each party will take away if the marriage ends. Or, if there is a disparity in incomes, you can add to the contract how much the lower-income spouse will receive.

Timing of Prenups

But many people are afraid of prenups. They are afraid prenups take the romance out of getting married. That’s too bad. As I’ve written about before, there are a lot of concerns prenups can handle:

  • Will you have to care for an older parent
  • Who pays or supports the house when going back to school
  • Agreeing to spending habits
  • Who pays for what credit card debt
  • Who handles the costs of a business
  • Who pays the taxes
  • What happens if someone dies or becomes disabled

The truth is that prenuptial agreements can put a damper on things because people wait too long to address them. Clients make appointments for a prenup a few days before the wedding.

As a result, there may not be sufficient time to prepare and review the agreement, and it could be challenged as unfair.

If you want a prenuptial agreement, then talk to your future spouse about one at the beginning. Being upfront about your needs, and not springing it on them at the last minute is proper planning. Proper planning and allowing a lot of time will protect the agreement accusations of undue pressure.

If the prenuptial agreement is drafted, signed and put away long before the wedding, you will better protect yourself, and have some protection against challenges about bad timing.