Marriage is an institution that has been celebrated for its tradition and idealism. In spite of the high percentage of marriages that end in divorce (a number that is steadily decreasing), it is hard not to be swept away by the pageantry, pomp, and purity (either real or perceived) that have been part of the American wedding tradition since before our nation’s roots were planted in the New World. Because of this vaunted view of marriage, we instinctively recoil at anything that would seem to undercut the idealistic (if not entirely rational) image we have of the institution. One thing that seems to draw much ire is the pre-nuptial agreement, or pre-nup.
And it is easy to understand why. A pre-nup is an agreement entered into by the parties, not yet married, agreeing to certain terms to follow in the event of divorce. The pre-nup’s mere existence is a tacit admission that divorce is possible, and many romantics understandably balk at taking that step, as if the mere mention of the word “divorce” will somehow jinx the marriage. But divorce is very real and very possible, and there is more than one reason to decide how to allocate things before the marriage. The most obvious one is protecting one’s assets. Another reason is to protect both you and your ex against debt. Hence, the nation is seeing a large increase in the number of pre-nuptial agreements, according to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Division of Wealth and/or Debt
Traditionally, men were the higher wage earners in a marriage, and thus pre-nups often protected the husband’s assets by setting a cap on the amount of spousal maintenance the wife would receive. While men still earn a higher wage on average than women in similar fields, it is more and more common to see women in the workforce, often in a professional capacity. A pre-nup could cap the amount of recovery for either the husband or the wife, depending on who is the higher earner. This is evident by nearly half of polled family law lawyers seeing an increase in the number of women asking for pre-nups.
Another important aspect of divorce that a pre-nup could address is debt allocation. If the marriage is saddled with debt, the debt does not evaporate once the marriage is dissolved. That debt is another part of the marital estate that must be apportioned. A pre-nup can set where the debt will end up, allowing the parties to either avoid or assume responsibility for the debt.
Contact a DuPage County Family Law Attorney
Marriage inevitably leaves the spouses vulnerable to each other, both emotionally and financially. An experienced pre-nuptial agreement attorney can remove this stressor from the marriage, so that you and your spouse can focus on the future. If you are contemplating marriage, and are curious about pre-nups, please call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina PC at 630-655-7676 for an appointment.