The Power of Pre-Nups
If you’ve read the news lately, you probably know that, sadly, Robert DeNiro is getting a divorce. The one silver lining is that Mr. DeNiro had an ironclad prenuptial agreement that has been upheld and protects a substantial portion of his estimated $500 million wealth. While prenuptial agreements may feel like the foray of the rich and famous, a valid prenuptial can be a valuable tool for all couples contemplating marriage.
In order to be valid under Pennsylvania law, a prenuptial agreement must be voluntarily executed and there must be fair and reasonable disclosure of both parties’ assets. To satisfy these requirements, it is best to avoid entering into a prenuptial agreement moments before the marriage. Rather, both parties should meet with competent, experienced attorneys in advance of the wedding, fully and fairly disclose all of their assets, and thoroughly review and understand the terms the agreement they are entering into. It is also important to remember that, when executing a prenuptial agreement, an attorney can only represent one client. While both parties may come in to the same attorney to draft the agreement, a decision must be made as to which party that attorney represents. The other party may be best served by obtaining his or her own independent counsel.
So what can a prenuptial agreement do? Absent a prenuptial agreement, the marital assets are subject to the default rules of equitable distribution. Quite simply, all property earned during the marriage is subject to division based on the equitable distribution factors as is any increase in the value of non-marital property that occurred during the duration of the marriage. Further, without a prenuptial agreement, alimony may be awarded to a lower earning spouse. A well-executed prenuptial that contemplates and outlines a scheme for the disposition of marital assets and contains an alimony waiver can, therefore, be a game changer during divorce.
Many people enter a marriage with little to no assets and, therefore, think that a prenuptial agreement isn’t necessary in their situation. However, it is important to remember that a prenuptial agreement can protect future earnings and also enable spouses to avoid liability for future debts.
Are you thinking of getting married and considering a prenuptial agreement? Then contact us at LaMonaca Law to discuss your options.