Although no one gets married anticipating a divorce, the fact remains that about half of married couples in the United States end their marriages through divorce. Mature adults understand that in addition to the romance of a marriage, the union is also a legal contract.
Advance planning before getting married, especially in terms of a marital agreement, makes practical sense for several reasons. If you are about to get married, consider these three reasons for a marital agreement.
1. You or your future spouse have children from a previous marriage.
If you or your future spouse have children from a previous marriage, a marital agreement can allow you to clearly specify what assets will go to your children in the event of your death. Couples with children from different marriages may have a higher likelihood of inter-family conflict following a death. Advance planning can give you peace of mind, protect your assets, and help you and your family avoid these battles.
2. You own a business.
A marital agreement can help protect your business in the event of a divorce, by specifying parameters to protect your business from future asset division. Marital agreements allow you to exclude certain assets from consideration as marital property. This is essential in terms of your business because courts will likely consider your business marital property and divide it accordingly unless there is a different agreement that specifies otherwise.
3. You are wealthier than your future spouse.
Wealth is perhaps one of the most common reasons that people draw up a marital agreement. The wealthier spouse wants to protect his or her best interests in terms of finances in the event of a divorce, so a marital agreement allows for specifying terms around asset distribution. Without a prior agreement in place, the courts will apply the family law in your state to your particular divorce without any special treatment or preference for your particular circumstances as the wealthier partner.
Preparing a marital agreement prior to marriage is a practical investment that can offer you and your future spouse clarity. It can also reduce conflict during a divorce proceeding because it outlines specific terms and conditions that give structure to the divorce settlement.