Are Prenuptial Agreements for Everyone?

Over the past few decades stories in popular culture have raised the profile of one type of contract–the prenuptial agreement. Some area residents use this document as an important part of their New York estate plan to help clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of both married partners in case of divorce. They are most common for those not entering their first marriage.

Many couples remain unclear about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for them. For example, most young couples who are entering into their first marriage do not find the idea of creating a contract in case of divorce to be very romantic or indicative of their plan to spend their lives together. In those cases the couples often do not have large assets with which to be concerned, and so a prenuptial agreement may not be appropriate.

However, confusion remains because some financial experts continue to insist that all couples should consider entering into these agreements. As discussed this month by Investing Answers the most common reason for this opinion is the high divorce rate. Yet the off-hand remark that “half of marriages end in divorce” has been debunked as inaccurate or at the very least, misleading. Measuring the divorce rate is complicated, because even if there are half as many divorces as marriages in a single year, that does not necessarily mean that 50% of marriages do not last. In fact, some segments of the population, like those with college degrees, are shown to have only a 10% chance of divorce within the first 10 years.

Of course even though divorce may not be as frequent as some suggest, they still do occur, making prenuptial agreements important for certain couples. Individuals who are entering a marriage with significant assets may want those protected. If one partner has significant debt, the other may reasonably want protection.

Those local residents who have children from previous marriages may also want to ensure that their assets pass onto their children, and a New York prenuptial agreement can help effectuate that desire. Alternatives to prenuptial agreements also exist which may provide some protection without the negative connotation of the contract. For example, an Inheritance Trust can be used to help parents pass on assets to children by blood instead of marriage.

There will never be a one-size-fits-all answer to planning questions like whether or not one should enter into a prenuptial agreement. But there is no way to fully know whether the contract is right for you unless you visit a New York estate planning attorney and get specific information about the effect in your situation.

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