Advantages & Disadvantages of a Prenuptial Agreement

Person signing small stack of papers

What Are the Pros & Cons of a Prenuptial Agreement?

Every relationship is different, and you and your spouse-to-be may be considering a prenuptial agreement for various reasons. If you are still considering whether a prenup is right for you and your relationship, consider the following positives and negatives of having a prenup.

The benefits of a prenuptial agreement for couples include:

  • Improving a couple’s communication. In drafting a prenup, you and your partner will have to have many serious discussions concerning your finances, property, hopes and feat, and expectations. By having these discussions, you can strengthen your marriage and communication skills as you have an open line of communication and a level of vulnerability with one another during these talks.
  • Saving time and money. If you do get divorced, you have already made many important decisions and have experience coming to an agreement. Because of the prenup, you can likely file for an uncontested divorce, which takes less time than a contested case. You can also reduce the amount of conflict many people experience during the divorce process.
  • Protecting your financial future. In Alabama, your marital assets and debts will be divided fairly not evenly because of equitable distribution laws. If either party has more debt than the other or intends to take on debt (by opening a business, continuing their education, etc.), the prenuptial agreement can allow both parties to outline their liability concerns separate debt, and how debts will be handled during the divorce.
  • Providing couples with more autonomy. With a prenup, you and your partner have more control over determinations made concerning your divorce agreement. By agreeing now, you maintain control rather than risk having to let the courts make decisions on alimony, property division, and other major decisions.
  • Protecting inheritance and businesses. If you have an inheritance of family heirlooms, own a business, or have children from a previous marriage, you likely want to protect the inheritance and your child’s trusts or assets meant for them from division. You can specify how certain assets should be distributed if you get divorced.
  • Defining marital property. As we mentioned, Alabama is an equitable distribution state, and your marital assets and debts will be split fairly. It is important to note that separate assets (i.e. assets you brought into the marriage) can be considered marital property if they have been commingled. However, you can take steps to outline what will qualify as marital property and how such property should be divided.
  • Determining who gets to keep the pet during your divorce. In Alabama, pets are considered property, which means that your dog, cat, parrot, or furry family member is subject to division. If your pet is considered marital or commingled property and you do not have a prenuptial agreement, you risk leaving pet custody decisions up to the court. To protect your pet, you and your partner can decide who will get pet custody and outline whether you plan to share custody, financial decisions, healthcare decisions, and other pet care choices separately or together.

While there are many pros, there are also cons to asking for a prenup. Some of the drawbacks are that a prenuptial agreement:

  • Isn’t romantic. While a prenup isn’t romantic, it’s responsible and benefits your relationship. However, having this discussion can put an end to the honeymoon period or fairytale nature of your relationship as thinking about the end of your marriage before it even begins can be a bit disheartening.
  • Can’t include child support or custody matters. Prenuptial agreements have limitations regarding what can and cannot be included. A prenup can be invalidated if it attempts to waive a child’s rights to financial support, specifies child custody or visitations terms, or incentivizes divorce for either party.
  • Can be disputed. If either spouse wishes to dispute the terms of their prenup, they can, and the courts will consider claims where either party claims they were coerced or under duress, didn’t have adequate legal counsel, or believes that the prenup favors a specific the other party.

If you still need help deciding whether a prenuptial agreement will work for you or drafting a legally valid agreement, you can trust Shaw Family Law to provide you with high-quality legal counsel. Schedule a case consultation today by completing our online contact form or calling (205) 259-7650.