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There are limits to what a prenuptial agreement can accomplish

Tennessee residents and people elsewhere across the country who know a thing or two about family law prenuptial agreements -- maybe through reading or perhaps from personal experience -- understand well that they can be powerful legal instruments when used in a manner intended under applicable laws.

And that is to promote mutual understanding and agreement concerning financial matters.

"Prenuptial agreements are designed to address financially based issues," stresses one online article that discusses those marital contracts in essentially a "do-don't do" fashion.

It is hard to envision a legal contract more fitting than a properly drafted and contained prenuptial agreement for accomplishing a variety of property-focused objectives. Those centrally include things like the following:

  • Identification of separate (personal) property brought into a marriage and intended to be distinct from marital property subject to equitable division in a divorce (this includes assets ranging widely from inheritances and business enterprises to heirlooms and money received through a trust)
  • The setting forth of detailed information concerning debts incurred by partners prior to marriage, as well as an explanation of how such liability will be handled in a marital dissolution
  • Provisions that carve out protections for children from a prior marriage

Additional provisions concerning the handling of retirement benefits, household expenses, management of savings accounts and other investment vehicles and financial concerns

The above-cited article notes that, while those bullet points denote terrain of great magnitude that is easily encompassed within a prenuptial agreement, there are subject matter limits that, when crossed, will often lead courts to declare marital contracts unenforceable.

A contract that seeks to override a court's power to weigh in on a child's best interests in a custody or support matter, for example, will fail on public policy grounds in every instance. So too will any provision that encourages unlawful conduct. Moreover, the patience of many judges is quickly exhausted by clauses that seek to dictate things like spousal looks and behavior during marriage. The cited prenup overview notes that courts tend to find the setting forth of such personal matters as frivolous and misaligned in a prenuptial agreement.

Marital contracts (both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements) can be eminently useful tools for couples in many marriages, but only when they satisfy all the prerequisites for being legally enforceable.

An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that they do.

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