It has taken a while, but many couples have figured out that having a prenuptial agreement is a sound idea.
A prenup is not just for celebrities and the very wealthy. It establishes financial and property rights for couples in all income brackets and a path forward for both parties if there should be a divorce.
According to a 2018 survey undertaken by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, requests for prenuptial agreements have been increasing for the past three years. In community property states such as California, a prenup can define each party’s assets and liabilities. In case of divorce, this would simplify property division and override the customary 50-50 split.
The new tax law may affect terms in prenups that couples sign or amend after Dec. 31, 2018, and updating may be in order. As it stands now in terms of divorce, a party who pays alimony may take a tax deduction while the recipient must declare the payments he or he received as income. The new tax law changes all that: The payor may no longer take a deduction and the payee will no longer have to declare payments as income.
A prenuptial agreement is not a fly-by-night document that a couple signs just before the wedding. It is a binding contract, and when it comes to preparation, each party should engage the services of his or her own attorney to assist. If the couple should divorce eventually, the court will scrutinize the prenup to be sure neither party was coerced into making a hasty signing decision and that there is nothing illegal about the terms.
While a prenup is important in terms of divorce, it may also come into play if one of the parties dies, especially in the case of a second marriage. If, for example, an estate plan exists, the prenup should contain that information. This will help avoid litigation, ensure the proper disposition of assets and protect the rights of the heirs.
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