If you're contemplating popping the question, or if you think your beloved may soon propose marriage, you may be wondering if you need a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement establishes the rights of each person regarding the property of the other in the event of divorce or death. It must be in writing and signed by both parties.
"While the dream of most marriages is 'until death do us part', in reality an increasing number of marriages end in divorce," explained Erin Webster O'Brien, family law attorney. "A prenuptial agreement reduces the uncertainty of a contested divorce by creating a contract on which both parties can rely prior to the downfall of a marriage. These agreements are usually created to safeguard financial interests when cooler, more logical reasoning prevails, rather than after the end of a marriage when emotion, animosity, and uncertainty can take over."
Prenuptial agreements are often designed to protect pre-marital property; if one spouse has incurred substantial wealth prior to the marriage, it could be considered unfair for the other spouse to take interest in it, since he or she put forth no effort or other contribution in obtaining it. "Another common request is to protect an asset belonging to a family," added O'Brien. "If a husband proposes with a family heirloom engagement ring, he would benefit from the protection of a prenuptial agreement requiring his wife to return the ring in the event of a divorce. Without an agreement, the wife typically retains ownership of the engagement ring."
Another reason for a prenuptial agreement is because life is unpredictable. "It's smart to have an agreement in place that will protect both parties if they decide to end the marriage, and they know what to expect."
For more information about prenuptial agreements, please contact:
Erin Webster O'Brien, Attorney
President, Will County Bar Association