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It’s no secret that a happy marriage; one that’s built on trust, accountability, and genuine love and affection, can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. However, just like any major life decision, such as buying a car, selling a house, or going to college, it’s extremely important that both parties are properly prepared for whatever could happen over the course of a marriage, both good and bad, and that’s where a prenuptial agreement comes in.

While they’re often unfairly seen as a “dirty word” in pop culture, prenups are incredibly valuable long-term safety tools that ensure that BOTH parties are protected, not just the party with “more money.”

The long-term consequences should always be considered when entering a marriage, and while there can be some awkwardness when broaching the topic of a prenup with your spouse-to-be, that usually comes from a lack of understanding of what a prenuptial agreement is, and what it’s really for. With that in mind, here are three essential components of a prenuptial agreement to help you better understand this valuable tool:

1. First and foremost, a prenuptial agreement requires a full and fair disclosure of the assets of both parties. Basically, this means that you and your spouse must disclose all income and debt that you each have at the time of the marriage. This protects everyone involved from an unfair financial surprise after getting married, and while most people only take a partner’s surface-level income into consideration in the earlier stages of a relationship, you should have a full picture of your partner’s financial situation by the time you’re even considering marriage.

2. A key requirement of a prenuptial agreement is that neither party may be put in what’s known as an “unfair bargaining position.” What this usually means is that you can’t enter into or negotiate a prenuptial agreement just before getting married. You’re required to provide a reasonable amount of time for both parties to properly negotiate the agreement and consider their options. This makes a prenup a valuable discussion topic for newly engaged couples (or even couples that aren’t yet engaged to be married), because it forces those conversations about sensitive financial topics to happen when they otherwise may not occur.

3. Finally, and arguably most importantly, each party must enter into the prenuptial agreement fully voluntarily, freely, and with full knowledge of the specifics entered into the agreement. This means that no matter what, you can’t be “forced” to sign a prenuptial agreement, and it will not come into effect without both you and your partner’s complete approval. It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend negotiating it, how involved an attorney may have gotten in the process, or if one spouse has far more in monetary assets than the other. You can’t be “strong-armed” into a prenuptial agreement, and both parties must consent to the agreement AND must be fully aware of all specifics for it to come into effect.

While a prenup can be a touchy subject for many couples, it’s an incredibly useful mechanism that can essentially act as “marriage insurance” to protect both parties if something were to go wrong with the marriage. Contrary to popular opinion, prenuptial agreements aren’t so much “preparing for the worst” as they are exercising the proper care and responsibility that’s necessary with such a major life decision.

Do you want to know more about prenuptial agreements? Are you or a loved one considering getting one? Then call us now or schedule a free one-one-one legal consultation with JC Law to discuss your situation with a member of our team. Learn more insights into pre and postnuptial agreements in our latest episode of the The Business of Law: A JC Law Podcast.

Remember, at JC Law, we aren’t just attorneys, we’re your legal ally.