When a couple is getting married, one of the last things that they are likely thinking about is a prenuptial agreement. With so many marriages ending in divorce, however, more and more couples are considering and signing these agreements. The discussion to enter into a prenuptial agreement is often very emotional, despite the fact that it is meant to be a practical protection.
Understanding the requirements of a valid prenuptial agreement, as well as when one may be useful, is important. With the assistance of an experienced Missouri divorce lawyer, you can be assured that your rights are protected and you comply with the law.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are also called an antenuptial or premarital agreement or referred to in the shorthand as a "prenup." It is a contract that is entered into before a marriage takes place. The contract sets forth specific rights and obligations of the parties in the case of a divorce. Many of these agreements will save time and litigation later on.
Who Usually Gets a Prenup?
Prenuptial agreements are more common than you might think. They are common with:
- People who have been through a difficult divorce in the past, and do not want to repeat the experience;
- Individuals with children from a previous marriage;
- Wealthy individuals with significant financial assets; or
- Business owners.
This is not an exclusive list. Knowing whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you is a discussion best had with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the complex drafting and negotiating process.
What Does a Prenup Usually Cover?
Prenuptial agreements can cover a wide variety of matters, typically dealing with property issues relating to one person's assets and debts. Prenups may cover:
- How certain assets acquired before the marriage will be combined or kept separate;
- How assets of the marriage will be divided in the case of divorce;
- How a marital residence will be divided;
- How to handle certain debts incurred before the marriage;
- Whether spousal maintenance (alimony) will occur in the event of divorce; or
- How gifts, trusts, or inherited assets will be handled.
This list is far from the only things a prenuptial agreement can cover but provides you with an insight into what types of protections it may offer.
Requirements of a Valid Prenup
In Missouri, there are a lot of requirements that must be met before a prenuptial agreement will be enforced. Examples of these requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Agreement must be in writing;
- Agreement must be signed by both parties;
- Both parties must enter into the agreement "freely, fairly, willingly, understandingly, in good faith, and with full disclosure;"
- The agreement must be conscionable;
- Both parties must fully disclose all financial assets and the value of those assets;
- Both parties must be fully informed of their rights under Missouri law;
- Both parties must be in a generally equal bargaining position.
A conscionable agreement is one that is fair. If a prenuptial agreement is deemed "unconscionable" by a court, the court may invalidate the entire agreement or the offending portion.
Consult a Missouri Divorce Attorney
Whether you need help with creating a prenuptial agreement, enforcing one, or fighting against one, with the help of experienced Cass County attorney Joshua Wilson, you will go into the divorce process with power, knowledge, and confidence.
Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm today at (816) 331-9968 for a consultation.