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Avoiding common prenup mistakes can lead to a harmonious dissolution

Although historically given a bad reputation by popular media, a prenuptial agreement is a type of marital contract that couples use to keep assets and debts separate as they enter the marriage. With a prenuptial agreement in place, the couple hopes to reduce disagreements regarding the ownership of assets and debt responsibility if divorce becomes a reality. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for couples to overextend the reach of the marital agreement and include provisions that cannot be enforced.

What are some common mistakes couples can make when drafting a pre-marital contract?

  • Including waivers of alimony payments: Even if the couple wishes to be completely honest and transparent about waiving their right to receive alimony payments, this type of contract is not the place to discuss it. In fact, there might even be legal restrictions to this type of language that should be discussed with your lawyer.
  • Including provisions for child support or child custody: In the spirit of avoiding arguments, the couple might negotiate various provisions regarding the paying of child support and a visitation schedule for child custody well in advance of the divorce. In general, the court system will ultimately decide these factors using algorithms including each parent’s future earning potential and what’s in the best interest of the children. Working out these details prior to the marriage is simply not possible.
  • Including provisions for lifestyle factors: Whether it is based on humor, playfulness or reality shrouded in a joke, couples cannot include lifestyle provisions in their prenuptial agreement. They might want to include rules about who will complete what chores, how many times a week the spouse is required to work out, dietary habits, an intimacy schedule, weight loss and weight gain limits, and so on. These provisions will likely get the entire contract negated until it can be revised.

For many couples, the divorce process can be a stressful time both emotionally and financially. It is wise to lay a solid groundwork by addressing numerous financial factors in advance. By working with an experienced family law attorney, you can draft a comprehensive prenuptial agreement.