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Are prenuptial agreements useful only for second marriages?

On behalf of Shelly McKeon

Prenuptial agreements can be helpful in a variety of cases. Spouses do not necessarily need to have children or huge assets already.

Before getting married, many couples in Maryland opt to draft and sign prenuptial agreements. In quite a few cases, these couples are on a second or even third marriage and will enter the new union with children and significant assets that they need to protect. However, it is a misconception that prenuptial agreements are useful only for situations like these.

The issue of debt

Debt is a problem for a lot of people. Recent college graduates may owe many tens of thousands of dollars, for example, and it will take years to pay off. A prenuptial can help delineate that only one spouse is responsible for the debt. There could also be other liabilities such as credit card debt to consider.

The issue of privacy

Many adults have grown up seeing people they know sling dirty laundry at each other in public, and they want to avoid that for themselves. One option is to draw up a prenuptial that has a confidentiality clause. It can help to safeguard a person’s reputation, but the agreement does need to be as clear as possible as to what might constitute a violation.

The issue of character

Adultery and domestic violence are just two of the character issues that can give a person pause about getting married. One way to reassure such concerns is for the other person to agree to a prenuptial that makes clear what the stakes in the matter are and that mitigates risk. For instance, if Spouse A cheats, he or she will have to let Spouse B have the house in a divorce.

The issue of stay-at-home parenthood

Before marriage, many couples agree that one person will stay at home to care for their future children. (Those who agree to do this after marriage may want to explore a postnuptial agreement.) The stay-at-home parent usually needs to protect himself or herself financially because being out of the workforce reduces savings, job prospects, and advancement.

It can also be stressful to stay at home and worry about what is going to happen if the marriage ends. Will financial ruin occur? How much could alimony be? Uncertainty does not make for the most solid marriage, but if the stay-at-home parent has the reassurance from a prenuptial of being financially secure no matter what, he or she can devote worry-free time to the relationship and to rearing the children.

The need for a prenuptial agreement is obvious in some cases. However, some engaged couples in Maryland may want to explore if a prenuptial agreement is right for them. An attorney can advise if such an agreement may be helpful.

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