You do not need to be wealthy to need prenuptial agreement.  What you do need is something you want to protect.

Ask yourself—

Is my income much higher than my fiancé’s?

If the income disparity between you is great or you anticipate that your income will grow at a much faster rate, you have exposure for paying alimony in the event of a divorce. Even worse, in Pennsylvania, before your divorce is final you could be liable for interim support, which can be up to 40% of the difference between your respective incomes. If the idea of paying alimony or interim support is unappealing to you, you may want to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement. Your prenuptial agreement can have a full waiver of alimony and/or interim support or you can cap the length or the amount of the payments.

Are there assets I want to keep in my family?

Your share of the family business or the family vacation home may have a marital component in the event of a divorce. Even if the family assets are your separate property, as those assets grow during the marriage the growth will be marital in Pennsylvania.  Does this sit right with you or are those family assets something you want to protect? In addition, having to go back and value the asset at the time of the marriage and at the time of the separation can prove to be lengthy and expensive proposition.

Are there assets I want to leave to my children?

If you have children from another relationship, you may want to protect certain assets in the event of your death. Even if you leave your assets to your children in your estate plan, your spouse can take against your will and collect assets earmarked for your children. A prenuptial agreement can contain a spousal waiver of the right to take against your will. This will allow your estate plan to control the distribution of your assets at your death.

Do I plan on moving out of state?

Divorce laws vary by state. For example, in some states, such as Pennsylvania, the growth of your premarital estate is marital whereas, in Georgia, the growth by market forces can be considered separate. Some states are equitable distribution states while others are community property states. You may now live in a state with favorable divorce laws but move to one without laws protecting your assets. Luckily, a prenuptial agreement rewrites the law just for your divorce giving you certainty and peace of mind.

As you can see, prenuptial agreements are all about protecting your assets and income in the event of divorce or death. Some prenuptial agreement protect everything you own and earn in the future. Others focus on protecting just what is most important to you.

To learn what type of prenuptial agreement is right for you or further discuss whether you need one, here is how to contact us.

Written by GHA Attorney Carla Schiff Donnelly.

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