Keeping an open mind about prenuptial agreements

According to a recent survey by the credit card company American Express, an estimated four million Americans celebrated Valentine’s Day with an engagement. While it may not sound like the most romantic notion, it is important for these newly engaged couples — and all other engaged couples for that matter — to remember that we have a relatively high divorce rate here in the U.S.

Accordingly, people about to enter their first, second or even third marriage may want to begin considering certain asset protection options. Specifically, what can they do to safeguard their property in the event of a divorce?

One asset protection device that is steadily gaining in popularity is the prenuptial agreement. In fact, a February 2010 Harris Interactive poll showed that at least a third of single Americans indicated that they would ask for a prenuptial agreement, while a second poll by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) indicated that 73 percent of divorce attorneys reported a rise in the number of prenuptial agreements executed between 2005 and 2010.

“All marriages terminate, whether it is in divorce or death,” said attorney Patricia Annino. “Signing a prenuptial agreement is assurance your assets go where you want them to.”

For those unfamiliar with prenuptial agreements, they are essentially legally binding contracts executed by a future husband and wife before they are married. Simply put, they allow couples to decide in advance how their property will be classified (marital v. separate) and divided in the event of a divorce.

Most people mistakenly believe that prenuptial agreements are only reserved for those with significant assets. The truth of the matter is that prenuptial agreements can be valuable asset protection tools for everyone, especially those who are remarrying or who have kids from a previous marriage.

“Statistics tell us that couples are marrying later in life, after they’ve had careers and separately built their own wealth. Or people are marrying for the second or third time,” said Steve Hartnett of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. “These are the exact situations where prenups are critical.”

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about divorce or prenuptial agreements, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


Reuters, “When Valentines and prenups go together” Feb. 15, 2012