In a 2010 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, 75 percent of attorneys who responded reported a sharp increase in the number of couples entering into prenuptial agreements in recent years. Tennessee has recognized the validity of prenuptial agreements since 1980, and since then court decisions have clarified the requirements for what people need to do to make binding prenuptial agreements. People getting married in Tennessee should be aware of the benefits of prenuptial agreements and the requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement in Tennessee.
Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements
One of the major benefits of a prenuptial agreement, also called a premarital or antenuptial agreement, is the amount of control it gives the couple over their affairs. The couple can decide how they want to divide property in the event of divorce or death, rather than allowing state law, with its one-size-fits-all approach, to dictate terms.
Prenuptial agreements can function as an estate planning tool for those who have children from a previous relationship. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that a parent’s assets will pass to his or her children without the spouse taking his or her elective share allowed under law.
A prenuptial agreement can also help divide the couple’s property in a manner that each thinks is fair by dictating which spouse receives which assets in the event of divorce. Spouses can ensure specific assets that they value highly, such as their retirement accounts, are theirs alone if they so choose. Spouses who own businesses may also use prenuptial agreements to keep their full ownership interest in the businesses should they divorce.
Valid Tennessee Prenuptial Agreements
Tennessee courts have clarified that a valid prenuptial agreement needs to include:
- Full disclosure on the part of each spouse about his or her finances, including assets, liabilities and debts
- No threats or duress compelling a spouse to sign
Experts suggest that the wisest course of action is for each spouse to seek the advice of independent legal counsel far enough in advance of the wedding so that the parties have sufficient time to review the agreement.
Consult an Attorney
While a prenuptial agreement may seem unromantic or as if the couple is betting that the marriage will fail, more people are realizing the benefits of planning in advance for the worst-case scenario. If you are considering marriage, talk to an experienced prenuptial agreement lawyer who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.