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What a Prenup Can Do — and What It Cannot

In a 2010 poll of divorce attorneys, 73 percent noted an increase in the use of prenuptial agreements, in addition to some surprising trends related to these documents.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted the poll with its 1,600 members, 52 percent of whom noted that women were increasingly the ones requesting a prenup. Additionally, 36 percent of the attorneys observed that retirement benefits and pensions were frequently being included as part of these agreements.

As prenuptial agreements become more prevalent, it’s important to note that they can be used to cover a number of issues related to marriage. Prenups are particularly useful if you’re interested in keeping your finances separate, and designating assets as belonging to one spouse or another can also protect those assets from being divided up in case of one spouse’s death. You might also use a prenup to protect yourself from being liable for your spouse’s debt.

Prenups are frequently used to outline who gets what in the event of a divorce, as a way of preventing drawn-out battles in the future. Finally, prenups can even be used for establishing responsibilities during the marriage, particularly those related to financial matters, such as paying bills, filing taxes, making large purchases and saving for the future.

However, there are also numerous things that either cannot or should not be covered in a prenup. For example, you cannot use a prenup to make predeterminations about alimony or child custody and support. A prenup is also not the best method to establish rules around nonfinancial aspects of your relationship, like responsibility for housework or pets, or how you’ll relate to children and extended family. In fact, including such information in a prenup may lead the court to take the document less seriously when you actually need.

If you would like to learn more about prenuptial agreements and how one might benefit your marriage, consult a dedicated family law attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP, serving clients across Nassau County, Suffolk County, and throughout Long Island.

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