Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law

Weighing the idea of a prenuptial agreement

The early stages of planning a wedding can be exciting and overwhelming. There are so many choices and directions you could take to make the day special and memorable. However, marriage is about more than one special moment, and there are certainly other questions to resolve in the months of planning before your wedding day.

One issue you may be debating is whether you and your intended should draft and sign a prenuptial agreement. You have certainly heard stories of those who lost fortunes because they failed to have such a contract in place, but the prospect of preparing for the end before you even get started may be daunting. When faced with a difficult decision, examining the pros and cons is often a helpful exercise.

Think positive

There is no reason why the business side of your marriage should dampen the romantic aspects. A prenuptial agreement can offer protection for the future financial interests of both you and your beloved. This may be especially important if this is not your first marriage or if you have children from previous relationships. Some ways in which a prenup can benefit you include the following:

  • Protecting the inheritance of your children from a previous relationship by superseding Oregon law concerning spousal shares of an estate
  • Separating your business interests from your marital assets
  • Releasing your spouse from liability for your personal debts, and vice versa
  • Outlining responsibilities and expectations for financial decisions within the marriage
  • Anticipating the loss of income if you or your spouse relinquish a career for family duties
  • Preparing for the separation of assets and spousal support decisions in the event of a divorce

Many Oregon couples find that the conversation and negotiations involved in drafting a prenuptial agreement open conversations and honest communication that endure throughout the marriage.

The other side of the coin

As with any contract, there is a give and take. While you may benefit from your spouse sacrificing his or her share of your estate for your children, you may also have to make some allowances. For example, you may also lose the elective share of your spouse's estate and the right to claim a share of any appreciation in your spouse's business if you sign those away. While some couples find a prenup discussion opens communication, you and your intended may be like others who find the topic breeds mistrust.

A prenuptial agreement may be a beneficial contract; however, it is important that both of you enter into it with a clear mind and a practical view of the future. Advocates urge couples considering prenups to seek individual legal counsel to ensure their rights are protected.

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Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law
1607 N.E. 41st Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

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