The word “prenup” incites an array of impassioned positions that reflect the deep values associated with the cultural notion marriage. Who can forget the episode of the now famous sitcom “Seinfeld” in which George Costanza is looking for ways to get out an engagement and Kramer suggests that he ask his fiancé to sign a prenuptial agreement. The stigma so often associated with prenuptial agreements underlies this exchange. This stigma stems from a logic which asks: if one is already preparing for a potential divorce, should one be getting married at all?
However, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to assume such a singular logic for the motivation of a prenuptial agreement. If we consider the institutional and legal complexities involved in marriages and civil unions, as well as the wide array of situations in which one enters into a marriage, prenuptial agreements can very well give both parties a peace of mind going into the marriage.
What exactly is a prenuptial agreement? Essentially, it is a way for both parties to protect their assets in the case of a divorce; though reasons for signing a prenuptial agreement don’t always concern the protection of one’s wealth. Often times if one person has substantial debt, if both parties own “real” property (i.e. real estate), or if one or both parties have children, there is a desire to address these in case of divorce. Essentially, what is important to remember is that prenuptial agreements can establish terms of separation preemptively, when both parties are content, rather than having to establish those same terms when there is the potential that one or both parties harbor resentment towards the other, which can needlessly aggravate an already difficult process.
It is important to emphasize that prenuptial agreements cannot be signed unless both parties agree and to ensure the lack of coercion or manipulation, they are usually notarized.
As lawyers, our underlying goal of any divorce, aside from the nuts and bolts work of addressing assets/debt, support, and any children issues is to make a difficult process as painless and expedient as possible, working in the best interest of our client. Sometimes this is achieved with a discussion before the marriage begins as to how best to protect our clients with a prenup.
As with all issues pertaining to divorce, including prenups, one of the most important things to do is become informed by talking with those who can help. One of our focuses at Parks Zeigler is divorce law, please feel free to ask us any questions you have and visit the testimonial section of our website to see what our clients have said about us.