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Overlooked clauses and prenuptial agreements: 7 things to remember

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Family Law |

Prenuptial agreements were once exclusively for the wildly affluent – but they’ve come to be embraced by couples from all kinds of backgrounds. 

While prenups typically cover things like the division of major assets and spousal support, unclear language and oversights can still leave both parties financially and emotionally vulnerable if the marriage should fail. Here are a few things that commonly get overlooked when couples draft their agreements:

1. Debt management

Debts can be just as much a part of marriage as assets – but couples sometimes forget to address them. A prenup should outline each party’s responsibility for the debts they bring into the marriage and outline how any new debts (acquired after the marriage begins) will be managed.

2. Family heirlooms

Whether it’s your grandmother’s diamond ring or antiques that have been passed down in your family for generations, you may want to specify exactly what is to be done with those treasured items in the event of a divorce. That can make sure that precious keepsakes remain with their family of origin.

3. Personal collections

Maybe you have a vast collection of coins, or you’re a pop-culture junkie with tons of memorabilia that you’ve acquired over the years. Just because your intended spouse has no interest in your hobby, that doesn’t mean those items won’t be factored into your assets during a divorce – unless you exclude them from the marital pot through a prenup.

4. Intellectual property

Intellectual property is hard to value – but works of art, manuscripts and inventions can all be incredible assets and deeply personal to their creators. Unfortunately, many prenups are silent about this issue, and that’s a big mistake. All prenups should address the ownership or copyrights, trademarks, patents and other original works created during the marriage by either party.

5. Memberships and season tickets

Country club memberships, season tickets to sporting events and other memberships often represent significant financial and emotional investments. You should clarify ownership, usage rights and financial responsibility for any recurring fees for these things in your prenup to avoid conflicts.

6. Genetic material

Regardless of your current intentions regarding offspring, it’s wise to plan ahead. Assisted reproductive technology has become increasingly common, and that often leaves couples with genetic material, such as sperm, eggs and embryos, leftover. Your prenup should address the disposition of any unused material should you and your spouse eventually divorce.

7. Dispute resolution methods

Despite the most carefully laid plans and a well-considered prenup, you can still find yourself embroiled in unexpected conflicts during a divorce. Including provisions in your prenup for mediation or a collaborative approach to any disputes can ultimately minimize both the emotional strain and legal costs associated with a dispute.

Prenuptial agreements aren’t exactly romantic, but they’re increasingly essential tools for couples – especially those who have delayed marriage until they felt financially comfortable. If you’re considering a prenup, learning more about how they work and what they can do may help you decide if this is the right move for your situation.