Prenuptial Agreement Checklist
By Henry F. Lewis on January 26, 2020
A prenuptial agreement shouldn’t be viewed as a sign that a marriage is built on a poor foundation and on the road to a divorce. Prenups are a way of ensuring each spouse’s best interests during the marriage. Attorneys Michael A. Gardner and Henry F. Lewis have helped many couples in the Oakland, CA area draft sound prenuptial agreements that take various aspects of their marriage into account.
Below, we want to provide a few important points to consider when drafting a prenup. This prenuptial agreement checklist isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a good starting point. We can get into the more gradual details and language during a consultation at our practice.
Your Assets and Debts Prior to Marriage
Spouses bring their own assets and debts into a marriage. A prenup allows you to each discuss how to treat your separate assets and debts. Some common considerations here include:
- Will your separate property become marital property?
- Will your separate assets and/or remain separate during the marriage?
- Will you use one spouse’s assets to pay off the other spouse’s debts?
- Will one spouse use their premarital property (e.g., a house) to acquire marital property (e.g., a marital home)?
Arrangements for Marital Property
In addition to considering your assets and debts before marriage, a prenup can outline some matters regarding any property that you acquire during the marriage. This includes:
- Will you jointly own your marital property (e.g., 50/50 ownership)?
- Will there be another arrangement for the ownership of marital property?
Managing Your Finances as a Married Couple
Your prenuptial agreement can cover many aspects of your financial decisions once you are married. Some common considerations include:
- Who makes major financial decisions in the household?
- Are financial decisions shared? Does this apply to major expenditures?
- Will you have joint or separate bank accounts?
- How will you plan for long-term financial goals?
- How will you handle spousal support or child support from a previous marriage?
Decisions on Filing Taxes
Marriage changes your tax status, but it may be more ideal for you and your spouse to file separate tax returns instead of a joint return. This is why our Oakland lawyers suggest discussing matters with an accountant and then noting tax matters in your prenuptial agreement.
Credit Scores and the Accumulation of Marital Debt
Your credit and any prior debt obligations can affect your marriage. In a prenup, you may want to consider the following:
- What happens if your spouse racks up a lot of consumer debt?
- How will you handle student loans and other past debt?
- How will you deal with issues related to bad credit?
Work, Careers, and Generating Income
The roles of each spouse as breadwinners or dual income earners in a marriage can be outlined in the prenup. Keep these matters in mind:
- What jobs and income will each spouse have?
- Will a spouse leave their job to be a stay-at-home parent in the event of having children?
- Does either spouse expect a career change in the future?
- What will happen if a job requires relocation?
- How will you handle retirement?
Possibility of Seeking Higher Education
Tied into career and income is the desire for higher education or vocational training. That’s why prenups may want to include language regarding these topics:
- Does either spouse intend to go to college, graduate school, law school, etc., during the marriage?
- Will one spouse need to support the other during school?
- How will the couple handle student loans and debts?
Does Your Prenuptial Agreement Have a Set Time Limit?
Finally, some prenups have a time limit written into them. The stipulations may expire after 10 years, 20 years, and so forth. Some prenups may no longer be valid in the event of infidelity or when other events have occurred. In addition, prenups can be renegotiated after a specific timeframe or when certain events occur (e.g., the birth of a child).
Learn More About Prenuptial Agreements
If you would like more information about prenuptial agreements and why you should consider having one, be sure to contact our team of marriage and family law attorneys. The lawyers of Gardner & Lewis, LLP can be reached in Oakland by calling (510) 451-4822.
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“The needs of your family are always at the forefront of our legal services. Whether through litigation or mediation, we believe that reaching a fair, efficient solution with minimal negative impact to your family is of the utmost importance.” Henry F. Lewis