We gave some kudos to rational thought regarding marriages on the near horizon in our preceding blog post. We noted in our October 23 entry that “down-the-road prospects for marital success can certainly owe more to some timely analytical focus than to fuzzy visions of enduring marital bliss.”

That observation serves as an almost go-to drum roll for a spotlighting of prenuptial agreements. Those have had an admittedly mixed reputation in the collective minds of marrying couples in Arkansas and nationally.

Commentators frequently cite the unjustified rap that prenups get in the family law realm. Nearly nine of every 10 experts surveyed in a recent poll asset that such contracts have “no predictable impact” on how marriages play out.

And yet myths persist. Following are some of the more persistent ones:

  • One or both marrying parties must have scads of bucks to protect to make a prenup relevant
  • Prenups only narrowly apply to divorce matters
  • Provided you just get it done, a premarital contract can be executed even mere minutes before a wedding ceremony
  • If you miss the chance to do a prenup, you can cover the same ground later with a so-called postnuptial agreement

In fact, prenuptial agreements can cover wide-ranging ground that has nothing to do with protecting separate property from a spouse. Moreover, their subject matter can broadly address issues that a couple regards as important and worthy of noting in a legal document (e.g., how to raise kids, how to pay off debt, how to commit future earnings and so forth).

A couple might get a second shot to craft a marital contract if they forgo a prenup, but that aforementioned postnuptial agreement comes with a caveat. If it is executed many years into a marriage, a large portion of accumulated wealth will likely be considered marital property and not so easily carved out for the sole ownership and use of only one party.

And a couple words on signing a contract just before uttering that fateful “I do.” A late-hour prenup is likely to garner some pronounced judicial scrutiny concerning whether duress or perhaps fraud featured in its execution. The same might hold true for a contract that lacks input on both sides from legal counsel or, conversely, indicates attorney representation for only one of the parties.

Questions or concerns regarding marital contracts can be directed to a proven family law lawyer who routinely helps diverse clients negotiate and execute such agreements.