Premarital Agreement

Premarital Agreement is binding legal contract between you and the one you intend to marry. Among the purposes people have in wanting such written agreements is to try to ensure that their assets remain theirs if the marriage fails, to provide that their assets, or at least a large portion of them, go to their children in the event of death, and to work out arrangements for matters that may become problems after the marriage. For some, it is a smart and practical way to acknowledge the fact that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

Pre-marital agreements usually determine how property will be distributed when the marriage terminates either because of death of one spouse or divorce. Property may refer to property either partner is bringing into the marriage and property either partner accumulates during the marriage. Property may be real estate or personal property. Personal property includes tangible property such as vehicles, jewelry, and furniture; and intangible property such as stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and pensions.

If the premarital agreement is valid, the court will enforce these property agreements when the marriage is terminated. For example, if the agreement specifies that property, and its accumlated value, that the wife inherited from her father is to remain her separate property, the husband would have no right to any of the property at divorce or at the wife's death.

Premarital Agreements about personal items, such as church affiliation or who does household tasks, may be in the agreement but are legally unenforceable. For example, if the agreement says each spouse will do one-half of the food shopping, prepare one-half of the meals, and wash one-half of the dishes, a judge will not order either spouse to cook and wash dishes. However, even though not enforceable by the court, discussing personal items and putting them in writing is often useful to the couple, because it gives them the chance to consider the nature of their relationship.

Premarital Agreements about the support or custody of children of the marriage, if the marriage ends in divorce, are also unenforceable. These are rights that belong to the child. At divorce, child-support decisions are based on the incomes of both parents. Custody decisions are made on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child.