Prenuptial agreement may be the key to marital happiness

The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is less than two months away and there is some speculation as to whether the couple will enter into a prenuptial agreement. Although prenuptial agreements are routinely enforced in United States courts, prenuptial agreements do not enjoy such strong legal support in the United Kingdom so it is unclear whether the royal couple will need one.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between future spouses which sets expectations for the marriage and ideally determines how assets and property will be divided if the marriage does not work out.

The fact that premarital agreements may not be useful in the United Kingdom does not mean that such agreements are solely for rich and famous American couples. An increasing number of average American couples sign premarital agreements to protect assets, businesses, retirement accounts and children from prior marriages.

The agreements are also not set in stone. Couples can agree to make changes to a premarital agreement if their financial situation changes.

Couples should seek the help of experienced attorneys when entering into a premarital agreement and not wait until the eve of the wedding to seek help. Agreements that are rushed or signed by an unrepresented spouse are more likely to be challenged in court and can create the messy divorce situation that a prenuptial agreement is designed to prevent.

Signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement does not mean that divorce is looming or that one spouse is unsure about the marriage. The purpose of such agreements is to initiate a frank conversation with your future spouse about your financial situation and your expectations for the marriage.

These are important conversations to have before a marriage and can help ensure that your marriage will last. The goal of prenuptial agreements is to make both spouses happy and secure, which can help prevent a divorce from happening by setting the marriage off to a great start.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Happiness May Be a Prenuptial Agreement," Kristen Houghton, 2/26/11

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