Protecting Your Assets
We live in a land of fairy tales. Think of all the movies and popular culture stories of happily ever after, true love, soulmates and other tropes that lead us to believe from a very young age that love is easy, love lasts forever, and everyone has the other person’s best intentions at heart all the time.
If only that were true!
I would not do such a brisk business if we had a smarter sense of what a relationship could be. There is romance in marriage, yes, and marriage can be a wonderful way to go through life.
It also comes with hardship, heartache and hard times – like any relationship.
Any time we are around the same person day in and day out, year after year, we go through wonderful times and challenging times. And because of the nature of human relationships, there is a role for divorce attorneys.
There is also a role for the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
But again, back to fairy tales – the perspective of prenups and postnups, as they’re known, has more to do with quashing that perennial idea of perfect romance and long-time love than reality.
When a couple decides to create a legal contract that protects their property, assets and sometimes, family heirlooms, it is not a statement that they don’t believe their relationship will last. It is not an acknowledgement that they will one day break up. It is not even a pessimistic outlook on the likelihood of lasting love.
It’s just practical action.
Real love can withstand planning and pragmatism. That’s why I encourage all couples to think about what assets they bring to a marriage that they might want to protect just in case.
Prenuptial agreements must be fair and reasonable, and both spouses sign. This happens before the marriage. A postnuptial agreement is similar in that it is intended to protect assets, only undertaken once a couple is already married, and to be enforceable requires different considerations than a prenuptial agreement and cannot be prepared for the purpose of divorce.
Some common protections included in such agreements are funds saved for education or retirement accounts. Both are examples of assets accumulated before the marriage and which each partner would want to keep intact in any event.
Think about if you own a house before you marry and you turn it into a rental property. It’s reasonable to say you want it to remain yours. It’s also ok to add it to the marital assets.
Again, I emphasize to clients that creating such legal documents is not a kiss of death to a marriage. It’s just practical, protective measures in any situation. And hopefully, it’s something you do and forget about it because you never need to go back to it!
Read more Collaborative Divorce posts
As we watch or listen to the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, I want to finish off Women’s History Month by paying homage to the powerful women who have led our nation’s legal thinking – and broken through previously thick ceilings to get there.
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