Marriage … is a damnably serious business,
particularly around New York.
If you think that you are a candidate for a prenuptial agreement, then
most likely you need one.
You may want to level the financial playing field between you and your intended.
You may wish to provide for your spouse in the event of divorce, or protect
yourself should that situation arise. You may wish to provide for children
of a prior marriage to the exclusion of a new spouse. You may wish to
limit or expand you financial exposure both during and after marriage.
You may just want peace of mind.
Whatever your reason, a prenuptial agreement is an excellent idea –
and in many ways a sure bet. If your marriage turns out to be a wonderful
relationship then you can agree to scrap the prenuptial agreement. If
your marriage turns into a nightmare, then your protection is inherent.
Here's a quick financial inventory checklist to use before retaining
counsel and so as to enable you to focus on what you have, and what you
want, and what your potential exposure and obligations may be.
What are you bringing into your marriage?
- Real property
- Cash accounts
- Stock/Brokerage accounts
- Pension/Retirement monies
Typically, and without getting too detailed, what you bring into the marriage
-- such as real property or credit-card debt -- remains yours.
However, in many situations, when you and your new husband or wife combine
credit-card accounts or add the other's name to a property title,
the responsibility becomes marital.
Often, as married couples mix their finances, make joint payments, or
fund big purchases, the lines between ownership and debt obligation become a blur.
A well drafted prenuptial agreement should plan for and provide for these
issues in advance.
Plan upon raising the issue of a prenuptial and retaining counsel to make
it a reality far in advance of the wedding. Plan on starting the process
at least six months before the wedding and insist on completing it three
months before the wedding. You want to make sure the parties have plenty
of time to negotiate and review the agreement, in an atmosphere of limited
stress. The engagement, wedding planning, and execution are highly charged
and emotional times. It is a time to celebrate love, and the creation
of a new partnership. All well planned partnerships have done the leg
work of financial planning long before they open their doors for business
 John Phillips Marquand,
The Late George Apley , ch. 3