Marriages, engagements, divorces and just about everything you can imagine that has to do with a family or a couple is governed by individual state laws. That is to say, family law is state law. However, while state law attempts to strive for fairness and equitable distribution, the law may not be the best for your situation. Prenuptial agreements allow for engaged couples to choose their own destiny.
Here are some common areas that are handled by state law and how a prenuptial agreement can avoid the state law from taking effect:
When a couple divorces, much effort is spent dividing up the assets that both spouses accumulated during the marriage, otherwise known as marital property. States take two different approaches as to how marital property is divided up. One is referred to as a community property jurisdiction and the other is referred to as an equitable distribution jurisdiction.
Community property jurisdictions are only recognized in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Such states divide marital property evenly, using a 50/50 split. In the more common method of equitable distribution, judges divide up the property in an equitable or fair manner depending on the individual circumstances of the divorcing couple. Both methods allow for separate property, property that spouses owned before the marriage, to stay with that spouse, post-divorce.
In most cases if not all, divorced couples fight and fight over how their assets should be divided. Regardless, state law controls and it ultimately leaves either one of the divorcees or both divorcees upset. That is exactly why prenuptial agreements are so important for a couple looking to marry. By adding a provision in the pre nup detailing how your assets shall be divided post-divorce, the couple has planned ahead for the worst case scenarios. Don’t let a judge decide how your assets will be divided, do it yourself.
State laws handle debt similarly to assets. Spousal debt is either separate property that has essentially began to accumulate before the marriage or marital debt that has begun to build during the marriage.
Prenuptial agreements can include a provision that divides debts based on your preferences. This is especially important if your fiancé has a significant amount of debt, and you want to ensure you will not be responsible for some or any of it, post-divorce.
- Spousal support
It is very common for a married couple to include one spouse who works and another who stays home full time to care for their children. In many instances, when a couple of similar circumstances divorces, the stay-at-home spouse is entitled to spousal support from the working spouse. Factors that a judge will use to determine the amount of spousal support regularly include the stay-at-home spouse’s earning capacity at the time of the divorce, the length of the marriage, and the state’s divorce laws. Judges usually have the final say as to how spousal support is conducted, and their decisions may be to your dismay.
Once again, following the same theme as above, a prenuptial agreement can avoid a judge’s arbitrary decision on the award of spousal support. A pre nup can limit spousal support, post-divorce, based on your wishes.
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