When you get engaged to your significant other, there is not a lot on your mind other than living happily ever after with the person of your dreams. After all, if you have just agreed to tie the knot with someone, it often means that you fully expect to spend the rest of your life with them.
Because of these emotions, it can be difficult and even awkward to plan for the possibility that your marriage will end in a divorce like nearly half of the marriages in the U.S. today. Any plans that you make for this possibility might seem like betraying your feelings for your future spouse, or making it seem like you are already doubting that getting married is really a good idea.
However, there is one easy way to protect yourself, should you and your spouse ever decide to divorce in the future. Even better, it does not only benefit you in the case of divorce; instead, it helps both you and your spouse during your marriage, as well.
A prenuptial agreement is just a formal contract that you and your soon-to-be spouse sign before your marriage. The provisions of a prenuptial agreement can include numerous different things, but most often have parts dealing with divorce issues, like custody or the division of property. One of the main functions of a prenuptial agreement is to designate property that you already own as nonmarital property, rather than marital property. This designation means that, in the case of a divorce, the listed property will not be split with your spouse through South Carolina’s equitable distribution law.
While this is the main function of a prenuptial agreement, the positive impact that this can have on your marriage can come in multiple different ways, and can even solidify your union tighter than it already is.
Prenuptial Agreements Protect Your Property from Being Split in a Divorce
It should not be overlooked that protecting your property from equitable distribution is one of the main functions of a prenuptial agreement. By listing the property that you are bringing into a marriage, it prevents that property from being considered to be community property, subject to equitable distribution. In short, whatever property you list on a prenuptial agreement gets protected from splitting with your spouse in the event of a divorce, allowing you to keep it without having to fight for it in a divorce proceeding.
It is probably this purpose of a prenuptial agreement that gives it such a bad reputation. By bringing up the issue of signing a prenuptial agreement before marrying, it can make it seem like you are more concerned with protecting your property than committing to the marriage.
However, insulating your property from being split in a divorce is only one of the many benefits of a prenuptial agreement.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Guide Property to Your Children
Prenuptial agreements can also protect any children that you have with your spouse, if you end up divorcing. In the years after a divorce, family dynamics become more and more complex as you and your ex-spouse find new partners and create new families. If you leave the property that you bring into a marriage unprotected by a prenuptial agreement, you stand the risk of not only seeing it get split in a divorce, but then make its way into the children of your ex-spouse’s subsequent family. A prenuptial agreement can prevent this from happening.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Control How Future Decisions Are Made
An important aspect of a prenuptial agreement is its ability to control how you and your spouse make decisions and share responsibility during the marriage. By making clear the intentions of you and your significant other before the marriage about how things should be decided in the future, it can eliminate a lot of contention and heated discussions. Because you set out the decision-making process early, when you are both clear and level-headed, it can make it much easier in the long run to come up with effective decisions on important life events.
Prenuptial Agreements Eliminate Much of the Legal Cost of a Potential Divorce
By having a prenuptial agreement to turn to for the answers to the questions that often come up during a divorce proceeding, it can eliminate the need of having an expensive attorney represent both you and your spouse, which can drain both of your bank accounts. This keeps your property and assets inside your family, allowing either you or your spouse and, eventually, your children to enjoy them.
Prenuptial Agreements Can Protect You If You Sacrifice a Career for Your Marriage
One of the things that a prenuptial agreement can do is make sure that you get compensated for giving up a potentially lucrative career for your marriage. If the marriage does end in a divorce, having a prenuptial agreement that sets out what will happen to compensate you for your sacrifice can make a huge difference.
Prenuptial Agreements Create Certainty in a Marriage
Divorce proceedings are complex, and the lead up to the decision to divorce from your spouse can be incredibly stressful. One of the key sources of that stress is the uncertainty in how things will turn out, who will get what, and how custody will work.
Outlining how all of that will happen in a prenuptial agreement can eliminate all of that stress and unease. When all that you have to do to figure out how things will happen in a divorce is turn to a prenuptial agreement, rather than going to an attorney and trying to predict what your spouse will do, it can not only save time and money, but even give you a better idea of what will happen.
South Carolina Family Law Attorneys Can Help
If you are getting married and are interested in a prenuptial agreement, contact the Elliott Frazier Law Firm, LLC. Our Greenville, SC family law attorneys understand the often conflicting needs and interests of soon-to-be couples, and how best to handle them to the benefit of everyone involved.
Angela Elliot Frazier is a Family Law Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 14 years now. Angela Frazier believes in helping you through one of the most stressful times of your life. Learn more about her experience by clicking here.