For those individuals who are looking to remarry or to marry for the first time and have a substantially higher net worth and earning capacity than his or her prospective spouse it is imperative that a premarital agreement be entered to protect financial assets and provide a quick, dispute free divorce in the event the new marriage fails. I know it seems like a harsh way to start a new marriage but the ramifications of not having a premarital agreement in these two situations can be profound.
In the event of divorce a spouse potentially can expect to receive support, alimony and equitable distribution of marital assets. That is appropriate in a first marriage for both spouses when the marriage lasts a number of years and the husband and wife come into the marriage with few assets, build their nest egg together, and raise a family. However, if there is a remarriage and one or both of the prospective newlyweds have children the inheritance for these children can be reduced by 1/3 plus $10,000 if one spouse should elect against his or her spouse’s will in the event of death. In addition, a prospective spouse with significantly greater assets and earning capacity could see his or her financial resources be reduced significantly in a time consuming and costly divorce proceeding.
To protect against the aforementioned negative consequences a well written premarital agreement will provide that any assets brought into a marriage remain with the spouse bringing the assets to the marriage, and that any increases in the values of such assets remain with the same spouse. The agreement will also provide for no alimony or support in the event of separation or divorce and will limit the rights of a spouse from electing against the will of the other spouse. The agreement may allow a lessening of these restrictions depending on the length of the marriage. Finally, an agreement will require both spouses to allow a divorce to proceed on a no-fault, claims free basis that can be secured within four months or so of the service of a divorce complaint.
There are other issues that further can be addressed in a premarital agreement. In the situations I described above prospective spouses should realize why it is both reasonable and necessary to have a premarital agreement. I have drafted many premarital agreements that have been tailored to meet individual needs. I strive to prepare documents in a timely manner and to charge reasonable rates. Please give me a call for an initial free consultation to discuss how I might be of service to you.