Whether in news accounts or stories in entertainment media, prenuptial agreements were historically used to demonstrate that one spouse was simply planning for the upcoming divorce. However, as divorce and remarriage became more the norm, these marital contracts gained popularity.
While every relationship is different, there are certain common pitfalls the couple should avoid when drafting the prenuptial agreement, including:
- Sudden requirements: While many people tend to shy away from difficult, confrontational conversations, the discussion about a prenuptial agreement should not come as a shock. The worst pitfall would be to simply avoid the conversation until it is nearly too late. While historically, the prenup was associated with negativity, the marital contract is now a more accepted part of the process. It is wise to conquer your reservations and discuss the benefits of this type of document well in advance of the marriage.
- Including lifestyle provisions: Lifestyle provisions or conduct clauses became a trend that gained some momentum years ago. These are clauses that one party or the other attempts to insert into the marriage contract that dictate terms that the couple shouldn’t include. These terms can cover things like a workout schedule, acceptable weight gain, household chores, a schedule of intimacy or family vacations. Courts will often invalidate these clauses and call the entire document into question.
- Child support and visitation provisions: Most often the court will look unfavorably upon any anticipatory clauses. They would rather examine the best interests of the child when the divorce becomes a reality in the present instead of following terms the couple decided years in the past.
Couples are wise to use the prenuptial agreement in the spirit it was intended. This type of document should be drafted to clarify the different assets, debts and properties each of the spouses bring into the marriage. From an established family business to a significant retirement fund, having this information in writing pre-marriage can prevent future uncertainty if a divorce becomes reality.