No one wants to think that their marriage won’t last. But many marriages do fail, so it makes sense to protect yourself as you enter marriage. You may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement, regardless of your income or the property you own.
A prenup protects each spouse’s property rights should the marriage end. Most people who marry bring into the marriage some financial assets, personal property, and debt and can benefit from a properly drafted premarital agreement. A prenup also can protect the interests of children from another relationship.
Though women have made financial strides in the last half-century, men remain the primary breadwinners in a majority of marriages in America. This shapes what most women should include in a prenuptial agreement. If you are marrying soon, Huntsville prenuptial agreement lawyer Leigh Daniel can help you understand whether you would benefit from having a prenuptial agreement.
If you need help establishing a prenuptial agreement in the Huntsville, Alabama, area, attorney Leigh Daniel can assist you as you work together to craft a solid agreement that addresses all of your needs while meeting Alabama’s legal requirements.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement in Alabama?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract two people enter into prior to their marriage to establish how their property will be managed and what obligations they have to one another if their marriage ends. In Alabama, a prenuptial agreement is also called an antenuptial agreement. A similar contract executed after a couple has married is known as a “postnuptial agreement.”
A premarital agreement allows you to write your own rules so that you are less tightly bound by what state law says. You must keep in mind that Alabama is an equitable distribution state rather than a community property state. This means that, in a divorce, the couple must divide property acquired during the marriage. Property that should remain yours alone because it was yours before the marriage can become so thoroughly co-mingled that ownership is obscured.
Let’s say you own a house when you get married, and you and your new spouse decide you will live in it while you make a few improvements so you can sell it. The market changes, so you refinance, and because both names are on the loan, you put the house in both parties’ names. An asset you brought to the marriage has been converted to marital property.
If you do not have a prenuptial agreement and get a divorce, you may be forced to sell your house and split the proceeds equally with your ex. A prenup could have designated the house as your separate property.
What Are the Main Benefits of a Prenup?
A prenup specifies how a couple’s assets will be distributed if they separate and divorce. A prenup can stop arguments over the rightful ownership of real estate, investments, and other assets before they start. Because you have a prenup, you already have an agreement in writing that spells out what is to be done with your home, personal property, and investments. A prenup can keep debt separate, such as student loans taken out before or after you marry.
A prenup may specify that certain assets go to the children of a previous relationship. An agreement may address the distribution of assets or personal property upon one spouse’s death, such as that a family heirloom will go to a sibling of the deceased if there are no children from the marriage.
A solid prenuptial agreement proves most beneficial in a contentious divorce. When a divorce is contested, the parties present their unresolved issues in open court so a judge can resolve them. A prenup preempts the need to fight over the issues it covers. This saves time and heartache, as well as money not spent on a long, drawn-out legal process.
What a Woman Should Ask For In A Prenup
You can write a prenuptial contract to establish what assets and personal property you and your spouse will keep as your own in case of a divorce and how other assets or debt will be shared. A prenup can spell out financial responsibilities during your marriage, such as who will be primarily responsible for managing the household budget.
When helping you to draft a prenuptial agreement, our recommendations would likely be to include provisions pertaining to the following:
- Property Division. You should consider all types of assets when drafting a prenup: real estate (your home, vacation home, rental property), vehicles, bank accounts, retirement funds, collectibles, artwork, family heirlooms, and more. Pet ownership after a divorce should be spelled out in a prenup.
- Debts and Liabilities. Both parties must start prenup negotiations with full disclosure of the debts they are bringing to the marriage. Typically, each spouse remains responsible for their premarital debt. The debt assumed together, marital debt, may be divided equally or proportionally in a divorce. However, a prenup might stipulate that debt assumed individually during the marriage, such as a business or student loan or debt from a credit card in one name only, will remain separate.
- Alimony and Spousal Support. A prenuptial discussion of spousal support is particularly important when there is a significant earning disparity between spouses. If the marriage ends, the spouse who earns less, typically the woman, would need financial support to maintain the standard of living they had while married. A prenup would address how much spousal support would be paid (expressed as a percentage of household income at the time of separation or based on a budget presented by the receiving party) and how long the spousal support will be paid. In some cases, the amount and duration of alimony payments may be indexed to the longevity of the marriage.
- Business Interests. If you own a business or are part of a family business, a prenup can protect it in the event of a divorce. A prenup should address the valuation of the business at the time the prenup is made, what ownership the spouse will or will not assume in the business, and how various business interests (including appreciation) may be divided if there is a divorce. A prenup may include such provisions as a confidentiality clause, non-compete clause, and non-disparagement clause, which are enacted upon divorce.
- If you expect an inheritance, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that it does not become a part of the division of assets required of a divorce settlement. A prenup can ensure that children of a previous relationship get their proper inheritance should you die. Establishing a prenup allows you to put in writing that proceeds from life insurance policies or retirement accounts are to be set aside for specific beneficiaries, such as children from a prior relationship, a charity, or for your new spouse. It is also crucial to make sure that the contents of your prenup are in sync with your will, trust bylaws, and other estate planning documents and that documentation of insurance policies, pension plans, IRAs, or other financial instruments names the proper beneficiary.
What Cannot Be Included in a Prenup in Alabama?
A prenup is a contract. As long as both parties enter into it willingly and each spouse has had the opportunity to speak with their own attorney about the prenup prior to signing it, it can be used to address almost any issue. However, there are conditions that Alabama law does not allow in a prenup, including:
- Provisions related to child support or child custody, or visitation
- Either spouse’s waiver of a right to alimony
- Requirements to engage in or go along with illegal activities
- Non-financial personal requirements, such as weight-gain prohibitions
- Incentives to divorce, such as financial rewards.
Contact Our Prenuptial Agreement Attorney in Huntsville, AL
Some may think the happiness of an impending marriage should not be marred by discussion of a prenuptial agreement. But a properly drawn prenup adds confidence to your happiness as you and your spouse agree to ensure each other’s financial stability and a fair split if, in the future, you are no longer a couple.
At Leigh Daniel Family Law in Huntsville, Alabama, our compassionate and highly skilled prenuptial agreement lawyers are ready to protect your best interests as you discuss the contents of a prenup with your future spouse. Count on Leigh Daniel to protect your financial interests as you develop an agreement and ensure that your final agreement is appropriate and legally valid. Schedule your consultation today.