A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two persons who are planning to marry. Prenuptial agreements are often called premarital agreements, and, if entered into subsequent to the marriage, postmarital or antenuptial agreements. These types of contracts typically set forth the rights that each party has to the other’s property. Couples can enter into prenuptial agreements prior to a first marriage or prior to a subsequent marriage after death or divorce of a prior spouse. Premarital agreements become operative in the event of divorce or the death of one spouse.
Prenuptial agreements can avoid uncertainty about how a judge would divide property and decide spousal support if the marriage ends in divorce. Either party may be seeking to avoid a major loss of assets, income, investments, or a business in the event of a divorce. People marrying for a second or third time often want to make their children the beneficiaries of all of their assets, rather than have the property pass to a second spouse and that spouse’s offspring from a prior marriage. A valid prenuptial agreement will generally supersede whatever state law exists regarding probate or divorce issues.