Purpose of Prenuptial Agreements

By Roger Thorne

The use of prenuptial agreements is allowed in every state. These contractual agreements between prospective spouses are typically used to plan for what happens in the event a couple divorces or separate. Prenuptial agreement's can cover a wide range of issues and circumstances.

Basis

Premarital agreements, sometimes referred to as prenuptial agreement or "prenups," can be used by anyone before getting married. These agreements are based in contract law, and as long as both parties agree to the terms they can generally include any provisions that do not violate the law.

Property

Prenuptial agreements are often used by couples to determine how property gets divided in the event of a divorce. They can also be used to determine how property can be used during the course of the marriage. For example, a prenuptial agreement can state that the spouses are entitled to use independent checking accounts during the course of the marriage, even though it can also provide that all marital assets are to be split equally in the event of a divorce.

Support

Premarital agreements often determine matters of marital support, sometimes referred to as alimony, apart from matters of property. For example, a premarital agreement can be made such that the spouses are only entitled to receive the personal property they had before entering the marriage, and an equal portion of the marital property. However, it can also provide that one spouse is owed a specific amount in monthly marital support payments aside from any property.

Fault

Premarital agreements can also be used to place restrictions or contingent clauses on the marriage. Because many states have "no-fault" divorce laws, prenuptial agreements can be used as the basis for fault claims. For example, a prenuptial agreement can have an adultery clause providing that the wife receives specific compensation in the event of the husband's infidelity, even if the state law provides for no such fault remedy.

Inheritance

Prenuptial agreements can also be used to ensure children receive inheritance rights. For example, a wife can use a prenuptial agreement to ensure any children of the marriage will not be left without property or income in the event the wife dies.