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Mastanduno Law Group Feb. 2, 2017

Prenuptial Agreements: Being Prepared for The Future

There’s nothing quite like finding the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. It’s a time when emotions run high and optimism comes easily. Marriage is definitely an occasion to celebrate, but it’s also a time to consider what the marriage will look like and to make plans in case it doesn’t work out. A prenuptial agreement can be used as a way to protect yourself and your assets for the future, but also as a way to ensure a strategy if there is a war at the end.

Some people might be turned-off by the idea of a prenuptial agreement because it’s not romantic. They’re right, it’s not romantic. Others might come from a religious background that doesn’t believe in divorce. That may be, but whether you believe in it or not, it still can happen. People and relationships change, and sometimes those changes don’t work for a couple; a prenuptial agreement is like an insurance policy for marriage.

Wealthy couples are no longer the only ones using prenuptial agreements; they are used by people from upper, middle, and lower class backgrounds. People of all backgrounds want to be prepared in case of a divorce. These agreements, also known as a premarital contracts or prenups, have advantages such as protecting a child’s inheritance, avoiding a messy divorce in the future, or as a means to protect their future spouse from being liable for old debt. They also are advised for people with children from a previous relationship in order to establish ongoing parental rights. Like wills, prenuptial agreements can be flexible and can be updated as necessary. However, they can vary depending on the client, so working with an attorney to create and explain the terms of the agreement is very important.

Once your assets and finances have been organized and the agreement is set up, there are some circumstances around these agreements that must be considered. The timing to present a prenuptial agreement to your future spouse is crucial. An agreement should be discussed ahead of time so the other person has time to consider whether they want to sign the agreement. In a perfect world, both future spouses would work together to draft their prenup, using it as a means to understand each other’s finances and expectations. For best practices, these discussions should take place long before the actual wedding so that it does not look like one person was forcing the other to sign.

Oregon maintains the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which outlines the requirements to enforce these agreements. In Oregon, a prenup must be in writing, signed by both spouses, and can cover subjects from the right to certain property to the obligations of the spouses; the terms can define what the spouses wills will look like, the disposition of a life insurance policy, and even which state’s laws will govern in the event of divorce. These agreements become effective once you are married. However, in order to be enforceable there are criteria that must be met: spouses must sign it voluntarily, it must be fair and reasonable, must be signed with full disclosure by the spouses (no hidden assets), and must not be otherwise unconscionable.

Depending on the individual, prenuptial agreements can be simple or complex. Attorneys that practice in family law like those at Mastanduno Law Group understand the different features that can be implemented for these types of documents. We strive to contribute to the needs of growing Oregon families as they embark on a new happy chapter in life.


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