What You Need to Know About Prenuptial Agreements

Most people have heard of a prenuptial agreement, but you may not be sure exactly what it is or if one may be right for you. A prenuptial or premarital agreement is a legal step that is usually made prior to marriage. The document establishes your financial and property rights and those of your fiancé in the event your marriage ends in divorce. Although you may not want to think of divorce just when you’re getting married, around 40-50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. Consequently, you may want to consider if a prenuptial agreement is right for you.

What’s Included in a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenup is often used to protect your assets, but it can also have a number of other important uses, such as:

  • It can protect your financial stability. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that you maintain your wealth status if you and your spouse should divorce.
  • It can protect you from incurring your spouse’s debt. If your spouse has considerable debt or a weak financial background, a prenuptial agreement can protect you from having to assume responsibility for his or her financial difficulties in case of divorce.
  • It can protect your business. If you have worked hard to build a successful business, a prenup means that it will not be touched should your marriage end in divorce.
  • It can protect your property. A prenup can be used to define what you and your partner consider to be marital and separate property, so that in the event of divorce, you can create a clear division of property without dispute.
  • It can preserve assets for children. If you have a child from another relationship and you are considering marriage, you may want to draw up a prenup to ensure that your child will inherit your assets.
  • It can determine the conditions of spousal support. You can use a prenuptial agreement to outline the conditions for spousal support or alimony for you and your partner should your marriage end in divorce.
  • It can reduce conflict. Divorce can be a very emotional time, and a prenuptial agreement can help to reduce the stress and prevent conflict during the separation.

How Will My Prenuptial Agreement Be Enforced in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which has laid out specific standards for how and when a prenuptial agreement is enforced. Providing that the agreement is drawn up and signed prior to marriage, it will usually be upheld with the following exceptions:

  • Both spouses were not in agreement upon signing. If you and your spouse were not in agreement or the agreement was significantly unfair to one or other spouse when signed, it may not be enforced.
  • Either you or your spouse did not provide full disclosure. If you or your spouse did not provide complete information about your assets or debts at the time of signing, and this information could not otherwise be reasonably obtained, the prenuptial agreement may not be enforced.

Additionally, a prenuptial agreement cannot be used to determine the conditions of child custody, consideration of visitation rights, or assessment of child support payments for children you may have during the time of your marriage. Should you and your spouse divorce, these issues will be decided by a judge, who will first review all evidence and testimony pertaining to your specific situation. The judge’s final decision will be based on the best interests of the children.

Making a prenuptial agreement can help protect your assets and property should your marriage end in divorce. Understanding and clarifying your legal rights in this situation can help reduce stress and avoid conflict. If you are preparing for marriage and considering a prenuptial agreement, contact our law office today at 888-591-9976. We are here to answer all your questions and address your concerns without obligation.