Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law

General Advice on Prenuptial Agreements

For most people getting married for the first time, having a prenuptial agreement is an unappealing prospect. Only about three percent of first-time spouses get prenups. But a lot of people getting divorced and dealing with contentious matters of property division probably wish they had a clear and enforceable prenuptial agreement.

That may be a factor in the much higher rate of prenuptial agreements for people who have been married before; it is closer to thirty percent. It makes sense on many levels. People who have been married before are older, so they are more likely to have substantial assets or debts, children from previous relationships, and experience with untangling finances at the end of a marriage.

For spouses-to-be that own very little and have very little debt, a prenuptial agreement probably doesn't make much sense. If, however, you have homes, inheritances, businesses, high-earning salaries, or mountainous debts, Pittsburgh divorce attorneys advise that it may be best for both parties if there is a realistic and frank agreement on how those matters would be resolved if there were no long a marriage.

Here are some general tips on preparing a prenuptial agreement:

1. Understand Pennsylvania property law. If you are getting married in Pennsylvania and are planning to live in Pennsylvania, your agreement should reflect the state's particular laws on property. If you have an agreement based on assumptions that don't match Pennsylvania law, the agreement may be unenforceable or end up having an undesired effect.

2. Move beyond the emotions. Bringing up the prospect of a prenup is stressful, and may get an emotional reaction. Likewise falling in love causes people to forget about realistic expectations. Move beyond both emotional ends of the spectrum and have a frank discussion about your finances.

3. Use tax time as way to start the discussion. Looking at each other's tax returns can be a non-threatening way to get onto the topic of finances.

4. Make the agreement reasonable. If it is not reasonable, it is not going to be enforceable anyway. Despite reports of celebrity prenups, these agreements are not particularly useful or effective places to include, say, monetary penalties for infidelity or other unwelcome developments.

5. Come to an agreement long before the wedding. Last-minute agreements are hard to enforce. In any case, both parties will be better off if they have plenty of time to consider the terms of any prenuptial agreement.

Source: Daily Finance "Five Tips on Planning a Prenuptial Agreement Before You Say 'I Do'" 4/5/2011

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