Engagement rings, wedding bells, and beautiful promises are some of the greatest joys of the commitment of marriage. It is important to celebrate your love and togetherness with your special person, but you should also be practical. Both people may come into the marriage with assets, debts, children, and other financial obligations. A marriage agreement can help you both consider these important aspects of your financial lives.
A marriage agreement can be any agreement that you and your spouse (or spouse to be) make to decide what will happen if the relationship dissolves. A marriage agreement can be made prior to the marriage (often called a prenuptial agreement) or after you are married.
Marriage agreements can deal with property that you consider your own or you want to share with your partner. It can also consider spousal and child support as well as parenting arrangements. Making these decisions when you are together can take away some of the fear of a long term commitment. It helps spouses rest assured that their interests will be protected.
You and your spouse should consult with lawyers when making your marriage agreement. The lawyers can help you with negotiating, drafting, and finalizing the agreement. You should each have your own independent lawyers who can advise each of you about your individual interests. We call this independent legal advice, and it helps protect the agreement in case either spouse tries to set it aside later on.
The process of drafting a marriage agreement requires you and your spouse to make financial disclosure to each other. This is an important step before committing to any long term relationship, and builds trust with your partner. These conversations can sometimes be uncomfortable, but they are important if you want to have more certainty in the event that the relationship breaks down.
Separation and divorce are very stressful times for everyone involved. You will both be grieving the end of an important relationship and life that you thought you would have together. It can be very difficult to make good, rational choices during this time. The court system is also very stressful and can be unpredictable.
A marriage agreement can set you up to avoid the pitfalls of understanding the complicated world of family law while you are grieving. If the agreement is fair and both partners intend to rely on it, it will most likely keep you out of the court process and provide certainty during a separation.
Check out our blog posts for more resources on family law agreements and how to ensure they are fair and enforceable.