Newly-engaged couples have a lot of planning ahead of them. They need to start thinking about what the future may hold and preparing to share their lives. Part of that process could involve the negotiation of a prenuptial agreement.
People often use prenuptial agreements to establish expectations for their relationships and to protect certain resources that could be vulnerable during divorce proceedings. Common prenuptial terms include clauses establishing certain assets as someone’s separate property and setting clear terms for property division matters if the couple eventually decides to divorce.
What influence does a prenuptial agreement typically have on divorce proceedings?
It may deter frivolous filings
Sometimes, people become dissatisfied in their marital relationships because the grass seems greener on the other side. There aren’t issues with abuse, addiction or infidelity but rather a sense of frustration or dissatisfaction with current circumstances. Some people file for divorce because they expect a large windfall when dividing property or fantasize about an unrealistic outcome. Those who know exactly what divorce could mean for their finances and family are less likely to file without a strong justification for doing so.
It may lead to a quick divorce
Provided that the prenuptial agreement is valid and that both spouses feel it is still appropriate, they may be able to proceed with a relatively fast and cost-effective uncontested divorce. They don’t need to litigate matters in front of a judge because they have already established what should happen with their property and the terms for other key divorce matters. Most couples can expect a less contentious and costly divorce process if they have a prenuptial agreement in place.
It could lead to additional litigation
Occasionally, prenuptial agreements are actually the cause of additional conflict during a divorce. One spouse may feel like the terms set are not fair and might try to convince the courts to set aside the prenuptial agreement. In such scenarios, the prenuptial agreement could create additional tension between the divorcing spouses and complicate the divorce process. However, people typically can only challenge a prenuptial agreement in very specific scenarios. If someone can credibly claim that they signed under duress, did not have legal representation of their own or agreed to unconscionable terms, then the courts may set aside a prenuptial agreement.
Understanding the impact a prenuptial agreement could have on a divorce might help people see the value of negotiating a contract with their future spouses before getting married. On the flip side, knowing that one is in place can help those who are preparing to divorce know what to expect to a significant degree.