Signs of a valid prenup
Perhaps the most important ingredient
of a solid prenuptial agreement is honesty. Both parties must FULLY
disclose their assets. If it turns out either person has hidden
something, a judge can toss out the contract.
An ironclad agreement also must be signed well in
advance of the wedding. You can't present your honey with a prenup
two days before the big day and say, "Uh, by the way, I need
your signature on this."
The document should be signed as early before the
nuptials as possible to avoid the appearance of coercion, another
key reason why some agreements are rendered null and void.
"I recommend at least one month before the wedding
and preferably before the invitations have been sent out,"
says Nancy Dunnan, financial adviser and author. "Then you
both have time to back out if you're uncomfortable with the terms.
If the discussion revealed such deep and basic differences between
two people that they decide not to marry, it's obviously best if
all the talks took place well in advance ... You don't want to have
to send back presents!"
A valid prenup also is "fair" and will not
leave one of the parties destitute. "No matter what state you're
in, the state will look for equity to make sure one spouse is not
being taken advantage of," says Joseph P. Zwack, an Iowa lawyer
and author of a best-selling handbook Premarital Agreements:
When, Why and How to Write Them.
Prenups can include responsibilities that don't deal
with money, but you should avoid making demands that might seem
frivolous, such as requiring that your spouse not gain weight, or
that he or she quit smoking and take out the garbage three times
a week. A judge could look askance upon terms that are less serious
than, say, stipulating what religion your children will observe
if you and your betrothed are of different faiths.
"It's dangerous to do that, and you're flirting
with having the whole thing set aside," warns Zwack.
--Posted: June 15, 1999