When most people walk down the aisle, they truly believe they’re making a lifetime commitment. Especially in the early stages of a relationship, it can seem as if love will, indeed, last forever. Sometimes, that ends up being the case. In other cases, however, things turn out differently than either person expected. Life gets in the way. People change. Love may still exist, but perhaps it changes form. Goals and visions for life become different – and couples grow apart. When this happens, when couples find themselves unexpectedly facing the end of what they assumed would be a lifelong relationship, it can be painful – even overwhelming.
All of this is true from an emotional perspective – but divorce can be financially overwhelming too. This can be especially true for those who already had significant assets when getting married – and find themselves faced with the prospect of losing approximately half of that wealth upon divorce. It can be startling and stress-inducing, to say the very least.
Imagine, for example, the entrepreneur and proud business owner. For many years, he or she poured their heart, sweat, and plenty of money into building a business from the ground up – one that finally became successful and profitable. In addition to the business itself, over the course of this time, the entrepreneur has also accumulated significant savings in a 401(k), as well as stock options.
Fast forward a few years. The entrepreneur who initially got married, assuming that it would be a lifelong relationship, finds that now, the marriage starts to unravel. The entrepreneur and his or her spouse start to grow apart. Divorce is on the horizon – and the entrepreneur now stands to lose almost half of the profitable business and other assets that he or she had invested years to grow. What can be done in a situation like this? After the fact – unfortunately not much. Before the marriage, however, a prenuptial agreement may have been a wise choice.
A Few Prenup Pointers
A prenuptial agreement is simply a private agreement between a couple that is drafted and signed before a marriage, and which sets forth how their assets (or debts) will be divided if divorce or death occurs. Often, of course, those who are contemplating marriage don’t ever want to think ahead about the potential end of that marriage. After all, it’s not very romantic, and it’s certainly not the easiest conversation to have with a future spouse. It’s a conversation that may be worth considering, however, for more reasons than one.
After you’ve had this conversation and you have decided, along with your future spouse that entering into a prenuptial agreement is the best choice for your marriage and your future, there are a few helpful things to keep in mind:
- Know that even ideas can be included: This is an important point for entrepreneurs. Often, entrepreneurs don’t realize that in addition to protecting actual property, ideas can – and often should – be protected as well. Often, one spouse may have a business idea that is still in the conceptual and initial planning stages – but that could eventually become very valuable. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for one spouse’s business concept to be developed by the ex-spouse following a divorce. This can be disheartening and discouraging, to say the least. That’s why it’s possible – and in many cases advisable, to protect businesses that are even in the early planning stages, and one way to do that is through a prenuptial agreement.
- Ensure that your attorney is business savvy: If you’re doing to enter into a prenuptial agreement, it’s always wise to be certain that your attorney is business savvy, and has the necessary experience and knowledge to help you plan for potential future contingencies. It’s also a good idea for each party to have their own attorney during the process, and to begin the planning process at least a few months prior to the marriage so that everything is in place before the big day. In some cases, depending upon the assets involved, planning and executing an agreement can take some time, so be sure to get started sooner rather than later.
- Full disclosure and fairness are key: In any prenuptial agreement, fairness is a paramount concern. Both parties should be entering the agreement fully informed and aware. The parties should fully disclose all of their assets, and be advised of how the agreement affects all of their potential rights. Failing to do so could result in the agreement being invalidated down the road, so it’s important to be upfront and honest from the beginning.
- Understand what can and can’t be included: Before entering into a prenuptial agreement it is very important that the parties sit down with one another, and with their attorneys, to fully understand what can and can’t be addressed in the agreement. For example, it’s important to know that while matters such as property division and alimony can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement, matters affecting children – such as child support and child custody – cannot. Familiarizing yourself ahead of time with what these agreements can cover and what they can’t is always a wise decision.
Ultimately, every marriage – and therefore, every prenuptial agreement, will be slightly different from any other. Regardless of your circumstances, however, one of the most essential and important steps you can take is finding a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to help you through the process.
Call The Law Office of Dustin McCrary Today
If you find yourself contemplating marriage and wondering if a prenuptial agreement is the right choice – or if you find yourself on the other side of the coin, facing divorce and wondering how to enforce a prenuptial agreement, or how your property might be divided if you don’t have one, at The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we’re here for you. You need an attorney who can meet you where you are, and help guide you to where you’d like to be. Dustin McCrary is that attorney. He is proud of his reputation for excellence built on years of experience helping countless clients through these complicated issues and would be honored to help you too. Contact us at any time. We look forward to speaking with you soon.