Table of Contents
- Free Prenuptial Agreement Samples (PDF & Word)
- What is a Prenup?
- Who Needs a Prenup?
- Prenuptial Agreement Pros and Cons
- How to Get a Prenup
- How to Make Your Prenup Valid
1. Free Prenuptial Agreement Samples (PDF & Word)
Prenuptial Agreement Sample PDF
The prenuptial agreement sample below details a contract in which the engaged couple agrees to maintain separate ownership of all property acquired before the marriage. However, all property acquired individually during the marriage will be treated as marital property and owned by both partners.Prenuptial-Agreement-Sample
2. What is a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” is a written contract that is entered into before a couple gets married — most commonly when they are engaged. This agreement defines the financial and property rights of each spouse should the marriage end in separation, specifically by death or divorce.
While they all have the same meaning, prenups may also be referred to as:
- Antenuptial agreement
- Prenuptial contract
- Domestic contract
- Marriage contract
- Premarital agreement
What Does a Prenup Do?
Prenuptial agreements serve to protect the financial and property rights of a couple should they ever divorce. This includes:
- Separate or Non-marital Property
- Marital Property
- Business Ownership
- Savings and Retirement
- Alimony and Spousal Support
Separate Property / Non-Marital Property
In the event of a divorce, the court will generally divide marital property between both parties, but exclude assets known as “separate property” or “non-marital property.” However, during marriage, commingling—or mixing—separate property may occur and cause property to lose its separate status.
To prevent this, a prenuptial agreement can be used to designate which partner gets what in the event of a divorce, regardless of commingling.
Separate or non-marital property includes:
- Premarital property (property individually acquired before marriage)
- Any inheritance or gift received from a third party during marriage
- Compensation from most personal injury awards
- Property acquired after separation
Anything acquired during marriage by either partner is generally regarded as shared marital property that belongs equally to each partner. However, a prenuptial agreement can be used to exclude certain property from being considered marital property, or “community property”.
Marital property includes:
- Earnings by each spouse during the marriage
- Property bought using either spouse’s earnings during marriage
- Separate property that has commingled with other marital property (e.g., an individual bank account in which both spouses deposit funds)
If one spouse began a business prior to getting married, the other spouse may be entitled to 50% of any increased value in the business that occurred during the marriage.
With a prenup, however, business owners can designate the status of a business owned prior to marriage as separate property. In the event of a divorce, this agreement would ensure that the business owner possesses exclusive rights to the business.
Savings and Retirement Goals
Couples can use prenuptial agreements to make concrete future financial plans together and decide how they will invest, save, or spend their money.
For example, each spouse can agree to contribute a certain amount of money into joint bank accounts or determine a regular spending allowance. Similarly, a prenuptial agreement can clarify whether joint household expenses, like a mortgage, will be paid from separate or joint bank accounts.
Alimony and Spousal Support
A prenuptial agreement can explicitly determine that the more disadvantaged partner will or will not receive financial support. State laws, however, vary on whether a spouse can completely waive or give up the right to receive alimony or spousal support.
When determining alimony, a judge and spouse may consider:
- If there is no spousal support, will the spouse become destitute and unable to provide for themselves?
- Does the poorer spouse have limited business experience?
- Did the richer spouse fully disclose all their assets and wealth?
- Did the disadvantaged partner truly understand the rights they were giving up?
Children from a Previous Relationship
If one partner has children from another relationship, a prenup can ensure that separate premarital property is shared with these children. Even when a will exists, prenuptial agreements can clarify and reinforce expectations to avoid costly legal battles that ultimately eat away at the estate.
Note: A prenuptial agreement cannot be used for unborn children from a new marriage.
3. Who Needs a Prenup?
Modern couples of all backgrounds are turning to prenuptial agreements more and more these days. No longer an exclusive marriage contract for the wealthy or the elite. More and more couples of all backgrounds are turning to prenuptial agreements to protect their future.
Consider using a prenup if you want to:
Be practical. If there is a large wealth or property disparity between spouses, a prenuptial agreement can protect those assets in the event of a divorce or sudden departure.
Spell out your financial obligations. Couples that have differences in income may consider signing a prenup as both spouses will be entitled to some portion of that money unless clearly defined. A prenup will also help shield each of you from financial responsibility if either you or your spouse have accrued a large amount of personal debt. Additionally, you may want to decide how to disperse any accumulated retirement benefits or determine how each spouse will pay household bills.
Protect your property. If you’re a real estate owner, a prenuptial agreement can determine what is and isn’t community property in your marriage. Owners or partners of a company, nonprofit, or business should keep in mind that your spouse can claim more than half of your company’s value appreciation.
Keep it in the family. If you’re concerned about maintaining children from a previous relationship as your beneficiaries, be sure to spell that out in a prenuptial agreement. Without a prenup, your partner may be able to receive a portion of any inheritance you expect to or have already been granted.
For all their benefits, prenups aren’t always the best option.
You shouldn’t consider using a prenup if any of the following occur:
You don’t feel the prenup is fair. You should never be coerced into signing a prenup. If you feel that a prenuptial agreement is heavily in favor of one spouse over the other, do not sign. Always make sure that a lawyer has looked over the agreement before agreeing to anything. Furthermore, if you and your spouse agree with your state’s default divorce law, creating a prenuptial agreement would be pointless.
Neither of you have much in savings. If neither spouse has any sizable assets or property to their name, a prenuptial agreement will rarely be of any use as protecting assets is the primary purpose of a prenup.
You’re avoiding familial obligations. Any couple that wishes to preemptively limit future custody or visitation rights of children should think twice before getting involved with prenuptial agreement. A prenup should not be used to waive child support obligations, alimony, or spousal maintenance.
For more information, read the following resources:
- 5 Ways a Prenup Can Divorce-Proof Your Marriage
- The Case for the Prenup
- Can I Keep My Engagement Ring?
Do same-sex couples need this document?
After the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, and the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, the IRS weighed in on same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes. According to a 2013 Forbes article, even before the landmark Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples would have benefitted from a prenuptial agreement.
4. Prenuptial Agreement: Pros and Cons
The pros and cons of prenuptial agreements can vary on a case-by-case basis.
The topic of prenups can be seen as a violation of trust in some relationships. Even though it’s a practical and important marriage contract, many people consider prenups to be an anticipation of the worst outcome before ever saying their vows.
However, the advantages of a prenup tend to outweigh the disadvantages. If you or your spouse incurred significant debt before marriage, a prenuptial agreement can protect each of you from taking on responsibility for that debt.
For instance, spousal income in a state with community property laws is considered equally shared between both individuals. This means if a creditor attempts to garnish wages in order to repay a debt in default belonging to your spouse, they may be able to garnish your income to facilitate repayment.
5. How to Get a Prenup
Use Legal Template’s Builder
Our online prenup builder will help reduce the amount of time billed by costly lawyers. Before hiring an attorney, first use our builder to create and print out a prenuptial agreement for them to review.
Do It Yourself Prenuptial Agreement
If you prefer to take a hands-on approach, download one of our free prenuptial agreement samples and fill it out yourself. Be sure to include each spouse’s full name and address as part of the contact information. Before signing a prenup, you will also need to include the following information in later sections:
Explain the marital background of both parties. You’ll want to outline any previous marriages of you and your future spouse. This includes any children from a previous marriage.
Clarify your legal representation. Spell out the names and addresses of any attorneys associated with your prenuptial agreement.
Disclose all financial situations. Outline the bank accounts of both spouses as well as any debts or loans you both may have. Credit card balances will also need to be addressed as these can be considered accrued debts. Additionally, lay out any property, stocks, or retirement accounts of either spouse and any businesses owned by either individual.
Hire a Prenup Lawyer
It’s important to get an impartial third party to comb over any legal agreement before you sign your name. This will ensure that you’re being represented fairly and your assets are substantially protected. Use these simple tips when looking for a prenup lawyer:
- Try a quick Google search for a local lawyer. Just type “prenup lawyers near me”.
- Check out LegalMatch.com to find local attorneys in your area.
- Before settling, be sure to research each lawyer you consider. Visit Martindale.com and explore their extensive database of legal professionals.
6. How to Make Your Prenup Valid
When crafting a prenup, there are two goals you should strive for: a fair process and fair terms. Although courts may take different stances on what is and what isn’t fair, the process by which the prenup is negotiated and the terms of the agreement are usually the same in all 50 states.
In order for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable in court, it must meet five basic procedural requirements:
- Must be in writing
- Must be signed voluntarily (free of duress or undue pressure)
- Must have been signed after full and fair disclosure
- Must not be unconscionable (must be fair and reasonable)
- Must be signed by both individuals before a witness and notary public
To determine the fairness of the terms of a prenup, a court will look at:
- The ability of each spouse to support themselves after divorce or death
- The goals of both parties entering the agreement
- The amount of property and income each spouse owns
- Family obligations and relationships
- Each spouse’s occupation, education, and earning capacity
- Each spouse’s future needs
- Each spouse’s expected contribution to the marriage
- The age and health, emotional and physical, of each spouse