A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is no longer a tool for just the very rich. If you are considering marriage in New Mexico, signing a prenup beforehand can help spare you a painful divorce process if things just don’t work out. It can also help out couples who have specific concerns going into the marriage, such as having children from a previous relationship or owning a stake in a business.
However, a prenup is only a good tool if it is done correctly and is enforceable in court down the road. Otherwise, you could find yourself back at square one should you decide to divorce in the future. Before you sign a prenup, make sure to work with an attorney on its creation and execution to ensure everything is done properly, as this will help you avoid making the common prenup mistakes below.
Not Making the Agreement Official
A prenup will protect you and your partner, so it really does benefit everyone involved. However, some of the misconceptions surrounding a prenup–that it is only used by couples who don’t plan to stay together, for example–can make it harder for couples to take the official step beyond discussion.
You must have a valid, executed prenup. Conversations alone or some terms hastily scribbled on paper will not carry weight in court. This document should be drafted by an attorney, and both you and your partner should have your own attorneys at the time it is signed. If you don’t each have your own attorney, the court may question the circumstances surrounding the execution of the prenup.
Pressuring Your Future Spouse Into Signing
If you or your spouse were coerced in any way into signing the prenup, the court will rule the agreement invalid. Coercion comes in many forms, including blackmail, threats, or just pressure in general. One of the more common forms of prenup pressure is one spouse feeling rushed to sign the agreement before the wedding date. Avoid this by making sure the agreement is executed well before the day of the wedding.
Including Outrageous Terms or Vague Language
Outrageous terms in a prenup can cause the entire agreement to be invalidated by the court. This is why working with an attorney is important, as they will know what to include and what cannot be included. Terms such as one spouse having to maintain a certain weight or do certain chores or any requirements for intimacy, for example, will be viewed by the court as outrageous. A prenup that seems very unfairly balanced toward one spouse is likely to encounter trouble with a judge, too.
In addition to the terms being reasonable, a prenup also must use clear, concise language to avoid the chance of a misinterpretation. A court will not be able to enforce any provision that just isn’t clear. Your attorney will know what language to use to ensure your prenup is clearly understood by any legal professional or representative of the court reading it.
Having Terms You Cannot Fulfill
You will be expected to abide by any arrangements or promises you made in your prenup. If you can’t fulfill your half of the agreement, the court may view this as fraud on your part. This is because it will appear that you made promises you knew you couldn’t honor to get your spouse to sign the agreement.
A prenup will only help you avoid a long, drawn-out divorce if it is done properly from start to finish. Work with an attorney to ensure your agreement will work as is intended should you ever have to divorce your spouse in the future.