Fair representation for your prenup (2023)

How to Design a Prenup You Never Want to Use

You are engaged, planning your wedding and ready to begin your future together. However, there is one important matter that you should raise with your future spouse before you start celebrating and planning your future.

Fair representation for your prenup (1)

A prenuptial agreement can help you and your future spouse establish the kind of honesty and long-term planning that will make the financial side of your marriage thrive.

Before finalizing the prenuptial agreement, you should have a plan of what to do if you decide to divorce. Entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage is smart financial planning. This legally binding document does not anticipate a couple's impending divorce. Instead, a marriage contract is a private contract that outlines each spouse's property choices if they dissolve their marriage in the future. If you're getting divorced and have a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse don't have to suffer the emotional and financial costs of dividing up all the assets.

Drafting a marriage contract

Prenuptial Lawyers at Petrelli Previtera believe it is important to negotiate and finalize a fair and legally binding prenuptial agreement with the person you love before other things get in the way. For this it is important that:

1. The document is cheap.

A court is unlikely to uphold a marriage contract that is manifestly unilateral and fails to consider the interests of both parties. In other words, the agreement is less likely to be challenged at all if it is fair. Apublicationin the New York Law Journal discussed this requirement, noting that many statutes require that the marriage contract be "fair and reasonable at the time of the making of the contract and ... not unreasonable at the time of the entry of final judgment."

2. Both future spouses have legal representation.

The court assumes that both parties understood the terms of the agreement before signing it. Therefore, each party should have the proposal reviewed by independent legal counsel. If both partners are represented by a lawyer, both interests are protected. It is often acceptable for one spouse to provide legal representation for the other. If this is the case, it may be wise to include wording in the document stating that the recipient chose their attorney and was satisfied with the representation provided.

3. All the details that are important to you are included in the agreement.

While things like child custody cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, other important things can. The most common information relates to property, money,estateand other assets. It can address important considerations such as division of assets, separate assets, and spousal support.

It cannot be stressed enough: Don't try to hide assets when entering into a prenup. Although full disclosure of each individual asset is generally not required, both parties should be given enough information to understand the implications of the arrangement.

What a pre-up can do

Set rules for marital property:A marriage contract protects the rights and obligations of the spouses to their assets. In other words, the document decides in advance which items belong to the marital property and which would be separated in the event of a divorce.

For example, if a spouse owned a home before marriage, the document might state that he or she would have full ownership. This includes full commitments to the financial costs associated with the home.

Protect each other from the debts of the other spouse:The document can limit the debt liability of each spouse. This way, if one spouse runs into debt, creditors cannot access the entire marital property.

Protecting Children From Previous Relationships:Spouses with children from previous relationships can entitle them to money and property.

Protect family property:Couples can list heirlooms, inheritances, businesses and other family property in the marriage contract. This keeps their property in their birth families.

Simply put, spouses protect the spouse's property. A couple can usually include anything financial in the agreement.

frequently asked Questions

Below you will find answers to questions that clients frequently ask us about prenuptial agreements.

Why do I need a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement provides each spouse with some protection in the event that they divorce in the future. This legally binding document can:

  • Determine which property (such as houses, cars, and jewelry) would be marital property and which would be separate
  • Limit each spouse's debt liability
  • Protect the entitlement to money and property of children from a previous marriage
  • Protect heirlooms, inheritances, businesses and other family property

Couples have many options when it comes to drafting their prenuptial agreement, but there are a few things that the document cannot legally do. For example, it cannot override criminal law or public order. A prenuptial agreement also cannot set out personal obligations, specify child support, custody, and in most cases, alimony.

What items cannot be covered in a prenup?

Personal commitments:Prenuptial agreements cannot divide housework, outline a parenting plan, or require spouses to behave in a certain way.

Determine custody or child support:Spouses cannot hold decisions about where their children (or future children) will live in the event of a divorce. You also cannot determine in advance how much a spouse would pay in child support.

Breaking the law:A marriage contract cannot be contrary to criminal law or public order.

Maintenance (in most cases):Very few states will enforce itmarital supportobligations in the marriage contract.

What information should be gathered when we start talking about our marriage contract?

Before you get married, setting up a prenuptial agreement not only protects your financial future. It can also start an important conversation about the assets you and your fiancé have and want to have in the future.

Ready to write an agreement? Use the checklist below to get started.

  • List the property and assets that belong to you and your fiancé separately.
  • Identify the assets you bought together.
  • List your separate debts and other liabilities.
  • Write down any inheritances that you know you will both receive.
  • Talk about your future financial goals.
  • Make a note of important financial aspects that you want to include.

What steps are required to create a strong prenuptial agreement?

If you and your future spouse have decided to enter into a prenuptial agreement, you have already taken the first step towards planning your future smartly. Next, there's a lot to think about. The following steps will help you navigate the process of creating a strong premarital contract — even if you never have to use it.


Tackle the document as early as possible. If you give yourself enough time, you will be able to think carefully about the terms you want to include and make any necessary revisions without haste.

Before you meet with an attorney, you and your partner can make a few lists. In ourPrenuptial Agreement FAQ, our lawyers outline the factors to think about beforehand:

  1. All of your property and assets
  2. Your debts and other liabilities
  3. inheritances you have or expect to receive
  4. Your future financial goals
  5. Any financial issues that might be important to be discussed

By starting early and having a private conversation before your first meeting, you and your future spouse will be ready to create a great first draft.


Be reasonable when formulating the terms of your agreement. Avoid a one-sided marriage contract. It won't stand up in court if you ever have to use it. Creating a strong marriage contract is a communication exercise. Show each other the same respect and courtesy as always.

Simple content

Once you know all of the terms you want to include, be as clear as possible. Use plain language in your agreement. There is no need for technical terms, legal language or minute and unnecessary details.

Also, be sure to draft a mutual protection clause in the event of death. It's a good opportunity to find out how your spouse is being cared for.


Make sure you read the entire document before signing it. Avoid rushing into an agreement that you are not comfortable with or that you are not clear about. Take your time and ask any questions you might have.


You and your partner should each have their own attorney when drafting the agreement. A partner usually has an attorney create the document and then sends it to the other for review. At Petrelli Previtera we have served customers on both sides of the process.

If you are ready to start drafting a prenuptial agreement, please feel free to contact our law firm. We can further discuss what steps you and your partner should take.

How can my future spouse and I prepare for our prenuptial agreement drafting meeting?

Before you meet with one of our lawyers, you can list the following:

  1. Property and Assets You Own Separately
  2. Real estate and assets you acquired together
  3. Debts and other liabilities for which you are separately responsible
  4. inheritances that you will all receive
  5. Your future financial goals as individuals and as a couple
  6. Any financial issues that may be important when concluding the agreement

Take a moment to list these details to start the discussion and prepare for drafting the document.

Why do prenuptial agreements have such a bad reputation?

For years society has created a bad stigma around these agreements when they come into effect to make your life easier in the future. You know exactly who owns what and what you are responsible for. It helps limit confusion.

As more and more people marry later in life, they consult with attorneys to ensure their safetyAssets, businesses, cars and other valuable itemsare theirs even after a wedding. There are so many reasons people choose a prenuptial agreement, and that doesn't mean things are going to end badly in your relationship.

What should we focus on when drafting a marriage contract with our attorneys?

You have already decided to take the first step towards smart financial planning as a married couple. When drafting your prenuptial agreement, consider these qualities:Time and preparation:Allow enough time before the wedding to complete the steps.

Justice:The court will not accept an agreement that does not appear fair. Think rationally and focus on each other's best interests when discussing the terms of the agreement.

Simplicity:There is no need for complicated texts. Keep the marriage contract clear and only go into detail when necessary.

Make sure you review the entire final draft before your attorney submits it. Ask questions if you are unsure of the terms and speak up if something is missing.

When do you get a prenuptial agreement?

Prenups are never a bad idea. If you have assets that you want to protect, you should always consider entering into a prenuptial agreement. This will help clarify exactly what your conditions are and what to expect in the future.

The most important thing to keep in mind is open communication with your spouse if you want a prenuptial agreement.

Can you reach an agreement after marriage?

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether you can enter into a prenuptial agreement after the marriage is final. The answer is yes! However, it is called a post-marital contract. This can happen when there are financial difficulties, legal issues, or when the couple decides to have children and wants to protect their inheritance. It can also happen when a person has inherited money from family members. You always have the option to sit down with a lawyer and get help.

When to Talk to a Lawyer

If you're worried about what other people think of aMarriage settlement, Don't worry. Our lawyers at Petrelli Previtera will help you allay your fears. This is a natural part of the relationship that many couples go through. You will be able to discuss any assets that are most important to you. Contact Petrelli Previtera today to arrange a consultation and find clarity!

What can Petrelli Previtera do for me if I need a prenuptial agreement?

Both future spouses should know exactly what the terms of the marriage contract mean. When a couple decides to enter into a marriage contract, one person usually has a lawyer draft the document and then sends it to the other person for review. Our law firm can represent a spouse and draw up the contract. Then the other spouse's attorney can review it. Alternatively, we can review a proposed marriage contract for completeness, legality and fairness. If the document could be better, our lawyers can help make the necessary revisions.

Does cryptocurrency qualify as an asset for a prenup?

Cryptocurrency is a valuable financial asset that should be considered in a marriage contract. Just like other financial assets, when owned, cryptocurrency should be declared by each party owning it so that it can be determined whether they are separate assets or marital assets. Although this is an emerging trend, people are starting to deal with cryptocurrencies in their marriage contracts. The challenge in discovering cryptocurrency in a divorce is locating it. Incorporation into a prenuptial agreement addresses this challenge by addressing the asset, disclosing the asset, and then protecting the asset just like other assets in the contract.

Contact our company for assistance

For more information on drafting a prenuptial agreement, please call us or fill out our online contact form. A prenuptial agreement attorney from Petrelli Previtera, LLC can explain the process and discuss next steps.

Financial support866-465-5395to make an appointment.

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Further reading

  • Lifestyle regulations in marriage contracts raise the question: What is allowed?
  • Three tips for a strong marriage contract
  • Treat marriage like an investment, make a prenuptial agreement
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