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No one wants to talk about the possibility of divorce before they have even married. Prenuptial agreements are often views as doing just that. But this is grave misunderstanding. A prenuptial agreement is not a way of you signaling to your future spouse your lack of faith in the durability of your relationship. A prenuptial agreement takes decisions regarding your assets and material interests away from the state and puts them in your control by means of contract. New York State has laws that stipulate how property is to be divided in the event of divorce or death. With a prenuptial agreement you get to decide how that will happen rather than a judge.
If you are entering a marriage with considerable assets and resources, having your partner sign a prenuptial agreement may be necessary. This is especially so if your assets are tied up with business interests that are extensive and complex. In such cases, the agreement is really not about protecting you but ensuring that the fate and future of ongoing enterprises does not hinge on the ups and downs of your personal life or mortality. Without such a contract, the splitting up of you and your future spouse may have disastrous consequences for your larger estate, the stability of which many people may depend on.
Prenuptial agreements are not only for the superrich. Ordinary people also benefit from them. Just because you are not at the head of a far-flung business empire does not mean you do not have interests and assets to protect. A prenuptial agreement can be applied to a range of assets and situations.
You may own a house while your partner does not. If it is your desire to ensure that you remain the sole proprietor of the house no matter what, then a pre-nup can help you. This form of pre-marital contract can also help protect you against coming out of a marriage worse off than when you entered it. You draw up a pre-nup that keeps the debts you enter the marriage with separate. This is an important use of the contract. It is increasingly the case that couples get married carrying debt. Student debt, credit card and consumer loan debt, car loans—these are a few of the many debts that most people will have incurred in the course of meeting, dating, and getting engaged. Once you get married, you may incur joint debt on a new house, home improvement projects, and other undertakings. A prenuptial agreement will give you a way to keep the pre-marriage debt separate from that which the two of you acquired together.
Protection of precious jewels and family heirlooms is another important use of the pre-nuptial agreement. Unless you have a contract stipulating otherwise, your spouse might be entitled to objects and items that have been in your family for generations. You should not risk losing these things. Getting a prenuptial agreement will help you protect them from seizure in the event that your marriage fails.
If you are concerned about any of the matters described above, you should hire a lawyer to help you draw up a prenuptial agreement. A lawyer will know how to put together a pre-marriage contract that will withstand legal scrutiny and that will ensure your assets are thoroughly protected if the worst comes to pass. You may have every reason to believe that you are entering into a beautiful and life-affirming partnership. However, you cannot risk losing what you have spent a life time building up. Hiring a lawyer will help you protect the assets most precious to you.