Between picking the venue, planning the guest list and taking caring care of the hundreds of other tasks that go into planning a wedding, you might feel like there is no room to take anything else into consideration. However, if you are only looking at the emotional side of marriage, you might be missing out on an opportunity to protect yourself. A prenuptial agreement affords important legal protections should your marriage end in divorce.

Of course, many people prefer not to think about the possibility of divorce while they are planning a wedding. The reality is that many marriages do ultimately end. While there is no guarantee that anyone’s marriage is heading in that direction, it is most certainly always better to be prepared.

When to consider a prenup

Prenuptial agreements have wide-reaching applications that can protect people in several different situations. If you own a business, have a substantial income, significant amounts of debt or are expecting an inheritance, you could potentially benefit from a prenuptial agreement. A prenup allows you to:

  • Document and maintain separate property
  • Document and detail special arrangements, within reason
  • Address property division in the event of a divorce
  • Establish conflict resolution strategies
  • Assign debt liability

You do not have to be fabulously wealthy to benefit from a prenuptial agreement. Even having a retirement account that you would like to protect regardless of how your marriage proceeds is a good enough reason to pursue a prenup. A prenuptial agreement can also be beneficial if you own real estate of any kind.

What to avoid in a prenup

While prenuptial agreements can protect your finances in a number of different situations, there are also things that you cannot include. For example, you cannot agree on things like child custody or support in a prenup. Child custody should always be in the child’s best interests, which may change from the time of signing, and the court will have the final say in support orders.

You cannot use a prenuptial agreement to address most personal preferences. A prenup is not for dividing up chores between spouses or deciding where to spend holidays. You also cannot decide on child rearing arrangements like where children will attend school or which religion they will be.

What if we never got a prenuptial agreement?

Whether you did not realize you needed a prenup or were too worried to ask for one, you still have options. A postnuptial agreement can address the same matters as a prenup. There is just one major difference — you create and sign it after getting married rather than before.

Agreeing to get a prenuptial agreement is one thing, and actually drafting it is another. Simple mistakes may lead to an agreement that a judge refuses to enforce, leaving both parties without adequate protection during a divorce. Ensuring that a prenuptial agreement sticks to California state law is one of the first steps a couple should take before signing anything.