Many people contemplating marriage presume that the mere mention of a premarital contract (colloquially, prenuptial agreement) may torpedo the romance. Premarital contracts are frequently viewed as a way to “hedge one’s bets” or to avoid complete commitment to one’s partner. It is ironic that premarital contracts invoke such notions since most people insist on a formal partnership agreement when entering into a business partnership. A marriage is a business partnership on steroids, so to speak, because it joins more than the financial aspects of people’s lives. A premarital contract can provide a wide range of benefits for both parties if carefully considered and drafted.
Premarital contracts permit the betrothed to plan for a wide range of issues in the event of divorce or death of a spouse. Couples might not need a premarital contract if neither partner has been married previously, and both partners have middle class jobs, comparable assets, and no prospect of substantial inheritance. However, many situations exist where a premarital contract must be given serious consideration, including the following:
- ownership of a business by either marital partner;
- anticipation of significant inheritance by either party;
- need to provide care and support for a loved one such as an elderly parent;
- entering marriage with assets of significant value such as retirement plans or real estate;
- substantial disparity in net worth between the parties;
- children from prior relationships; and
- either party is supporting the other in obtaining a higher education or professional career (e.g., physician, attorney).
A study by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) predicted a third of new marriages will end in divorce within ten years, and 43 percent will end in divorce within fifteen years. The divorce rate for second and third marriages is considerably higher. Parties are able to reach more constructive agreements on issues involving property and debt division, alimony, and other financial issues when they discuss them during amicable times rather than amidst the animosity and conflict that can accompany a divorce. A premarital contract provides for predictable negotiated resolution to financial matters in the event of divorce or death of a spouse. Otherwise, litigation cost from divorce and inheritance disputes can deplete the marital estate.
Although Kansas courts will generally enforce properly drafted premarital contracts provided they are not grossly unfair and do not violate public policy, there are many mistakes that may motivate a judge to disregard a premarital contract. Many premarital contracts that become the subject of contentious litigation are prepared without the assistance of an experienced and licensed Kansas divorce attorney.
If you need assistance in drafting, enforcing or seeking to challenge a premarital contract, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you and answer your questions. We invite you to call the Kansas Family Law Attorney at the Weber Law Office at (316) 265-7802 or to submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.