Prenuptial Agreement, SJ Magazine
Couples planning a wedding may also wish to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are particularly appropriate when either the bride or groom has been married before, has children from a prior relationship and/or has acquired significant assets prior to the marriage. The prenuptial agreement is accordingly a contract between the marrying couple defining their rights in the event of a divorce. The prenuptial agreement must be entered into prior to the marriage, accurately disclose each parties holdings, and be entered into without fraud, coercion, duress and/or other circumstances which would call into question the voluntariness of the agreement. It is accordingly important for couples who are considering a prenuptial agreement to plan adequately in advance so that they are not reviewing and/or signing the proposed prenuptial agreement at the last minute, without the opportunity to consult with counsel and/or to otherwise investigate the disclosures contained within the prenuptial agreement. Couples considering prenuptial agreements should accordingly comprise inventories of their respective property holdings, discuss their intentions with one another and retain attorneys to represent them as early as possible. While there is no bright line test as to how much time should pass between the entry of the prenuptial agreement and actual wedding ceremony, the couple should ideally complete the negotiations and sign the prenuptial agreement at or about the same time the couple begins making wedding plans; the comprehensive prenuptial agreement, including all required disclosures, should be reviewed by two attorneys and signed by both parties prior to wedding invitations being sent. Couples should also recognize that a prenuptial agreement cannot extinguish either party’s obligation to support children born of the marriage; provisions within a prenuptial agreement purporting to limit either party’s obligation to pay child support to children born of the marriage will not be enforced. It is equally important that each party have their own independent attorney review the proposed prenuptial agreement; the enforceability of the prenuptial agreement can be called into question if either party was not afforded sufficient time and opportunity to review the prenuptial agreement and consult with independent counsel.