A prenuptial agreement is becoming a crucial contract for many Millennial couples. These agreements can give both partners a sense of security that makes marriage easier to maintain.
It’s easy to come up with a list of basics to include in a prenuptial contract, like how alimony will be handled and who will have child custody. However, there are a few things that you should consider adding to your prenup that may not be as obvious. Here’s are five things to consider adding to your prenuptial agreement to make sure you’ve actually covered all your bases.
1. Embryo Custody
Assisted fertility methods are becoming more common for modern couples, but they offer some complications in divorce. After all, child custody is one thing, but embryo custody is another. The custody of frozen embryos is still relatively unlegislated because the entire situation is so new.
Many in vitro fertilization methods result in extra fertilized embryos that get put in storage in case the couple wants to have more children in the future. When couples split with embryos in storage, coming to a decision on how to handle them can be difficult.
Prenuptial agreements can prevent heartache and disagreements in the future. You may decide that one person gets full custody of the embryos or that they should be stored indefinitely. Either way, you’ll have a firm idea of what will occur if you split up. That can make all the difference for your peace of mind if you decide to use assisted fertility procedures in the future.
2. Pet Custody
So you’ve decided how child custody and embryo custody will be handled if you ever split. Now, it’s time to think about your furry friends the same way. Pet custody can quickly get contentious, especially the pet in question was acquired during your marriage.
To prevent pets from making a future divorce even harder, you can use a prenup to determine who will get custody in advance. It may be clear even now that one of you has a stronger attachment to animals than the other. In that case, you can easily assign full pet custody to the animal lover in your relationship and relax.
You can also choose to split custody of pets or add a clause to determine future custody whenever a new pet enters your family. These options can be helpful if you’re both firmly attached to pets. No matter what option you choose, putting a pet clause in your prenuptial agreement can help you prevent problems before they come up.
3. Debt Allocation
One of the most fundamental aspects of most prenuptial agreements is splitting ownership of your financial assets. However, your debts are less likely to be included in the standard contract. If you’ve put clauses in place that cover who owns assets, it’s only fair that you also divide the responsibility for debts.
Since California is a community property state, debts and assets are equally split between married partners unless another contract says otherwise. A prenuptial agreement that only covers assets can leave one partner with less than half of the marital assets but half the marital debts, which is obviously unfair.
Your prenuptial contract can solve this problem neatly. Just like you can divide ownership of your assets, you can and should divide your respective debts. This ensures that neither party winds up with an unfair ratio of debt to assets and protects you if your spouse develops a shopping or gambling addiction in the future.
4. Future Intellectual Property
Intellectual property (IP) is easy to forget. As a creator, it’s easy to feel like your ownership over your work is inherent. According to the law, however, intellectual property works like any other asset in a marriage. If you create IP while married, it’s subject to community property laws, just like financial assets and real estate are. That means that you’ll split ownership of your ideas and creations down the middle with your spouse should you ever divorce.
A solid premarital contract can help you retain full ownership over your IP, though. You can make sure you don’t lose rights to anything you care about by including a clause dedicated to this intangible property. Whether you’re concerned about patents or copyrights, you can cover it all in your prenup.
Finally, inheritances can and should be covered in a prenuptial agreement. However, the reason for this is the opposite of the other four elements on this list. Unlike pets, embryos, debts, or IP, inheritances are considered the separate property of one spouse, not community property.
This is intended to protect the spouse who receives the inheritance from predatory actions. However, it can make life difficult for the partner who didn’t receive the inheritance should the couple divorce. Why? Because property purchased with inherited money remains separate and not community property. If your partner buys a home with inherited funds, then you have no right to the house unless your name is also listed on the deed.
You can address problems like this in your prenup. The exact terms and situations you choose to include can vary. You might decide to leave inheritance funds as separate property but make assets acquired with those funds community property. You can also specifically state all inheritances community property immediately. You’ll need to work with your partner and an attorney to determine the right solution for your marriage.
Modern Marriages Require Modern Contracts
The financial and emotional elements of marriage have become much more complicated in the past few decades. Prenuptial agreements that worked perfectly well for previous generations no longer cover everything modern couples need to handle.
You should put a prenuptial contract into place that actually covers the things you and your partner need. Working with an experienced marriage attorney can help you design an agreement covering the things you care about. Whether you’re worried about your pets or your intellectual property, an expert attorney can help you develop a legally binding contract that meets your needs. Reach out today for a free consultation about your prenuptial agreements.