Historically, prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) were regarded as instruments for those more mature couples who already have significant assets to their name. These days, the appetite for prenups is also gaining momentum among younger couples on the path to marriage, regardless of their wealth (or lack thereof). A prenuptial agreement between two younger individuals presents its own unique challenges, because often certain family and financial conditions are still in flux, and the future presents a broader array of possibilities that may need to be addressed in the agreement. The following discusses special or heightened considerations for prenups between younger couples.
What if the Couple has Children?
A younger betrothed couple is more likely to have children during the course of their marriage than an established couple that met later in life, and perhaps already has children from previous relationships. Accordingly, a prenup for the younger couple may need to contemplate certain issues that will arise once the couple becomes parents. While prenup provisions that discuss custody or child support for future children are not typically enforceable, there may be other economic issues caused by having children during the marriage. For example, a prenup may predetermine certain alimony or spousal maintenance arrangements in the event that one parent foregoes career advancement and earning potential in order to stay home and care for young or disabled children.
What if a Spouse’s Earning Potential Changes?
A younger couple is more likely to experience significant changes in financial circumstances, and ideally, financial growth, during the course of their marriage. The couple may marry before either spouse’s career has taken off, or a spouse’s earning potential may grow dramatically, or a spouse may even start or grow a business. A prenup can address these financial eventualities and provide for the couple’s desired allocation of assets that may come into play with the passage of time.
What if the Couple Buys a House?
It is not uncommon for young couples to buy a house together in the early years of their marriage. A prenup can predetermine which spouse may occupy the house in the event of a divorce, or how the sale proceeds from a marital residence might be distributed based on each spouse’s contribution to the purchase.
What if a Spouse Inherits or is Gifted a Significant Amount?
A younger couple may be more likely to inherit wealth from older family members as their marriage matures. Prenups may contain provisions which override certain default state rules and address whether such inheritance or gifts should be treated as a spouse’s separate property, or whether they should be treated as marital property to be distributed between both spouses in the event of a divorce.
The younger you are, the longer your prenuptial agreement could be in play. For that reason, it is especially important to seek the guidance of legal counsel when contemplating such an agreement. If you are looking for assistance with drafting a prenuptial agreement that meets your needs and protects your rights both now and in the future, contact our law office and schedule a consultation.