A prenuptial or premarital agreement is a contract that engaged couples may consider to help protect their personal assets as they go into marriage. Often simply called a “prenup,” these agreements go into effect after the wedding, not before.
It’s a common misconception that a prenup is something that’s only for wealthy people, or that making one shows a lack of confidence that the marriage will last. Neither of these things are true—there are several advantages to having a prenup that many engaged couples could consider.
Prenuptial agreements can help spouses avoid taking on liability for the other’s preexisting debt. This is especially helpful when one spouse is bringing significantly more debt into the marriage than the other.
A prenuptial agreement may provide some protection for a spouse who leaves a career to raise children or run the household. You can make sure there are provisions for alimony or other maintenance payments. Keep in mind, alimony and spousal support laws differ around the country.1
Not every couple chooses to establish a prenuptial agreement—it’s not mandatory. For those who do, there’s no deadline. But it’s a good idea to start preparing the agreement 6 months before the wedding date or as early as possible.2