Ask the Expert: Pre-Nuptial Agreements
As you are preparing for your fairytale wedding, the last thing that you want to think about is the possibility of divorce. Unfortunately, many marriages end in divorce and while it is an extremely unpleasant thought (that’s an understatement), if more people would be prepared for this possibility, a divorce may be less unpleasant and less expensive. The way to prepare for the possibility of a divorce is to consult with an attorney before you tie the knot and have an experienced attorney prepare a pre-nuptial agreement.
You and your soon-to-be spouse can agree to the terms of a divorce before it occurs so that you do not have to argue about and potentially litigate how assets and debts should be divided or whether alimony will be paid to one of the parties.
The law in Pennsylvania provides that the pre-nuptial agreement must be signed voluntarily by both parties. In addition, both parties must provide full and fair disclosure of all of their assets and debts to the other party prior to the agreement being signed so that an informed decision can be made by the parties relative to the rights that they are waiving. However, the parties may agree to expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the assets or debts of the other party. If the agreement is not signed voluntarily and if there is not a full and fair disclosure of assets (or a waiver) and debts, the agreement may be challenged in court if the parties file for a divorce. If the agreement is challenged, it may be invalidated by the court.
While it may appear distasteful and depressing to negotiate and sign a pre-nuptial agreement before your big day, this agreement may save you a significant amount of money and headaches in the future. Hopefully, you will never need it, but it doesn’t hurt to have it as sort of an insurance policy for your future.
If you decide to enter into a pre-nuptial agreement, it is extremely important to have it drafted by an attorney who specializes in family law and who has experience in drafting them.