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A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract establishing how assets will be divided in the case of a divorce or of one spouse’s death. But prenups aren’t just for the ultra-wealthy. Though prenuptial agreements can be especially important for those holding significant assets or debts before marriage, most marital counselors consider a prenuptial agreement to be an extremely effective tool for creating transparency, openness and peace of mind in the marriage.

Prenups can also be an especially important tool for women, who are more likely to spend time outside the workforce caregiving to children or elderly family members. As Allison Walsh, a New York attorney, says, “You don’t think you’re going to get in a car accident, but you sure do buy the insurance anyways.” “The most important thing is that couples should have open and honest conversations before marriage, and understand what the rules are if things go wrong,” Walsh added. “If you do that, you’re much more equipped for a successful marriage.”

What is a prenup anyway?

In short, it’s a contract: A contract for your marriage and what happens if things don’t work as planned. The agreement prepares couples for the unthinkable – ultimately aiming to save both parties in emotional and financial ways. The document frames and narrows the issues in the event of a divorce. With the costs of divorce skyrocketing, a good prenuptial agreement can limit the costs attenuated to the divorce by crystalizing how the financial aspects will be resolved if the marriage goes sideways.

How do prenups compare to post-marital agreements and other arrangements?

There are a few alternatives to prenups that may help couples prepare for their financial future. A postnuptial agreement, for example, is less common than a prenup but has become more popular in recent years. If a couple has a significant change in finances or are having marital issues, a postnuptial agreement can be useful to reflect changed circumstances. Other alternatives include mutual estate planning, and such plans rely on the couples’ state of residence.

What are the benefits to getting a prenup?

First, we like to outline the benefits of simply having a conversation with your partner about the prenup. That process facilitates an open and transparent conversation about your and your partner’s financial situation, which is an important skill to master in marriage. Because, let’s face it, money matters. A lot. In fact, over half of divorced couples report that their marriage ended due to financial strain. Ultimately, we advise couples that this process of “negotiating” a prenup can strengthen their relationship over the long term.

Once the document is signed, it substantially limits the range of outcomes in the event of a separation or divorce, and eliminates many of the levers one party could pull to cause problems (and expense). And by signing the document before marriage, you get to make these plans and difficult decisions from a place of love, rather than from anger or resentment.

As you have this conversation with your partner, we suggest you keep moving the conversation forward, but always consider your partner’s perspective and try create solutions together. Don’t think of the process as a zero-sum game. And don’t hesitate to take a pause when things get testy.

What happens if I don’t have one?

The short answer is, you don’t really know. That’s the troubling part. Family law will govern any dispute, and that’s usually where the battles start. Although everyone assumes he or she will act maturely and rationally during a divorce or separation conflict, it rarely happens.

How much does it cost?

It really depends on the complexity of your situation. Traditionally, couples would pay somewhere between $3,000-$5,000 for a moderately complicated situation. With the advent of sophisticated technology and online platforms like JUSTLAW, the cost can be much lower. In fact, we’ve recently launched a promotion offering a custom-drafted document and a 1:1 virtual meeting with an experienced lawyer for just $529 (limited time only). In short, getting a prenuptial agreement is a lot easier and more cost effective than it used to be!

 

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Want to learn even more?

 

When to file a strategic counter-petition for divorce?

Normally, to start a divorce, one spouse would file a “Petition for Divorce” and serve it upon the other. When that happens, the responding spouse would typically file what is known as an “Answer” to that petition. In this answer, one would generally deny the allegations of the petition as a purely defensive measure.

However, sometimes it is beneficial for the responding spouse to go on the offensive by filing a “Counter-Petition for Divorce”. This counter-petition is often combined with the “Answer” and titled “Answer & Counter-Petition for Divorce”. It is basically a way of preserving your right to go forward with a divorce even if the spouse who filed the original petition later decides he or she no longer wants the divorce. In other words, if that spouse withdraws the original petition, your filed counter-petition can still serve as a legal basis for the court to go forward with the divorce.

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Another important reason for filing a counter-petition is if, in addition to simply dissolving the marriage, you are also seeking affirmative relief such as alimony or property division. Filing such a counter-petition is especially important if the relief you are seeking is different than what is stated in the original petition or is entirely omitted from that petition. Identifying those claims in your “Answer” will not preserve them if your spouse withdraws the original petition. Thus, under these circumstances it is best to include a counter-petition so that you may (i) make your own factual allegations, (ii) state your own reasons for divorce, and (iii) request your preferred relief from the court.

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As you surely have noticed above, JUSTLAW hosts a variety of well-experienced attorneys such as the author above. Thus, if you found this article to be beneficial and need legal advice pertaining to your individual legal needs, contact us and we will immediately set you up with an attorney.

DISCLAIMER: This blog content is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Do not act or fail to act based on this information alone. For actual legal advice, please speak to a lawyer in your jurisdiction about your specific fact situation.

Blog authored by:

Mayur Amin
Arlington, Texas
12/14/2020

Mr. Amin graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1994. He has over twenty years of civil litigation, trial, and appellate law experience. This experience includes having tried over fifty civil jury trials as first-chair and the filing of appeals with both the Supreme Court of Texas and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Amin also has several years of work experience handling a variety of personal, business, and transactional law matters. Prior to law school, Mr. Amin was a certified public accountant and earned his Bachelor of Science with high distinction from Indiana University’s School of Business.