Marriage can bring about significant changes for couples, particularly in the area of finances. Marriage, of course, has the effect of tying together couples financially, making them partners in both assets and debts.
This partnership may apply not only to assets acquired during the marriage, but in some situations to assets brought into the marriage, such as business assets. Other important assets, such as retirement accounts, can be impacted by marriage. This is a particularly important point for older Americans who get married.
In the event of divorce, Pennsylvania law prescribes that courts are to distribute marital assets and debts equitably when couples are unable to come up with a suitable arrangement on their own. There are various factors courts can take into consideration when making the determination about equitably division, including the length of the marriage, the sources of income available to both parties, the standard of living established during the marriage, and whether a party has primary custody of minor children.
Couples preparing for marriage are not without means of controlling the financial outcome of a potential divorce, though. This is precisely the purpose of prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement, when it is wisely negotiated and validly executed, effectively trumps state property division law.
It is important, when putting together a prenuptial agreement, to work with an experienced attorney and to get an early start. This helps to ensure not only that one’s interest will be represented, but that everything will be done properly and that there will be enough time to work out an acceptable agreement prior to marriage. As experienced attorneys, we understand the needs of clients when putting together prenuptial agreements and work to protect their interests.
Wall Street Journal, “Financial Questions to Settle Before You Get Married,” Andy Ward, May 24, 2014.
Pennsylvania General Assembly, “Equitable division of marital property,” Accessed Dec. 5, 2014.