What are Prenuptial, antenuptial, or post-nuptial agreements? They are one in the same; an antenuptial agreement is also known as a prenuptial agreement. Historically, prenuptial/antenuptial agreements were used when a person of wealth was trying to protect their family's wealth from the new spouse, or to protect and preserve assets for children of his or her first marriage.
In today's society, people are waiting until their late-twenties or mid-thirties before they tie the knot for the first time. By that time, the couples usually have individually established careers and may have accumulated substantial assets in his or her individual names often in the form of real estate, retirement plans or other investments. Today, younger clients are now signing prenuptial agreements to protect their premarital assets and the appreciation in value of these premarital assets in the unfortunate event of a potential divorce.
Prenuptial agreements are also especially important when the client either solely owns a premarital business or is a partner in a premarital business. Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, without a prenuptial agreement, any appreciation in value of a premarital business which accrues during the marriage is marital property. Having to pay a spouse for his or her share of the appreciation in value of a business which accrued during the marriage can also be devastating to the continuation of a business and the business partners. A prenuptial agreement is the legal device used to exclude a premarital business and its appreciation in value from the marital estate.
A prenuptial agreement may also be used to designate the property or even the percentage of marital property or alimony each party will receive in the event of a divorce. Thus, prior to marriage, each of the parties will have a realistic expectation of what each party would be financially entitled to in the event of divorce.
Some people believe that a prenuptial agreement deflates and diminishes the trust and romance out of marriage; or that a prenuptial agreement presupposes a divorce will occur. In reality, a prenuptial agreement is an important financial planning device which can save substantial divorce litigation costs. A prenuptial agreement can alleviate unreasonable expectations in the event a divorce does occur.
Prenuptial agreements must be signed before the parties marry. A client should not expect that a comprehensive prenuptial agreement can be drafted and signed the week before the wedding. At least six months before the wedding, a client should begin the process of planning a prenuptial agreement. The client will need to address the various scenarios to which the prenuptial agreement will or will not apply. Time also needs to be allocated for the negotiation of any language changes requested by your intended.
One attorney cannot represent both parties in the drafting of a prenuptial agreement. Often the agreement goes back and forth between attorneys with a number of revisions. It is not fun to be discussing a prenuptial agreement while in the heat of wedding preparations or wedding festivities. It is better to have the signed prenuptial agreement behind you so that you are able to enjoy, if not the planning, the actual wedding festivities.
When choosing a prenuptial agreement attorney, as in everything, experience matters and makes a difference.
It is important to hire an attorney who understands the intricacies of the law with regard to prenuptial agreements and who has extensive experience that comes from drafting a great number of complex and sophisticated prenuptial agreements. You want to trust your prenuptial agreement to an attorney who has drafted complex and high net worth agreements, and who thoroughly understands the ancillary issues of alimony, and equitable distribution.
Prenuptial agreements can simplify a later divorce settlement
Prenuptial agreements are invaluable in the event of a future divorce. Prior to a divorce being contemplated, premarital agreements can state what is and is not marital property. An experienced West Chester family law attorney can craft strong agreements that simplify the divorce process.
Meet with a skilled prenuptial agreement lawyer in West Chester, PA
The Law Office of Wesley W. Legg, Esquire LLC has experience crafting strong prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements. Please call 484.401.7079 or contact my office to set up an initial consultation to discuss a prenuptial agreement. Consultations are charged at Wesley's then-hourly rate.