A common circumstance in which couples enter into a pre-nuptial agreement is when one prospective spouse has or will come into considerable family wealth. The advantaged spouse-to-be (the one who either has or will have the assets) wishes to have a pre-nuptial agreement to protect her or his family from being in business with a spouse who is not related by blood. In such cases, there likely will be provisions made for the disadvantaged spouse upon either death or dissolution of marriage. In most cases, the disadvantaged spouse is likely to receive more benefits in the case of death of her or his spouse than upon divorce. Often, life insurance is utilized to provide for the disadvantaged spouse upon the death of the advantaged spouse.
In other cases, couples who have previously been married and had children by a previous spouse want to have a pre-nuptial agreement in order to ensure that their assets go to the children of the first marriage, and not to a new spouse. Spouses in these situations often provide specifically that certain assets will go to their children by the first spouse. Depending on the circumstances, such spouses may provide for nothing to go to the new spouse. This is common in circumstances in which both spouses have assets and are not looking to the new spouse for support.
In general, pre-nuptial agreements are entered into in situations in which one or both spouses have some significant assets or wealth, or where it is expected that one or both spouses will eventually receive such assets or wealth. These agreements often provide that each party will keep what he or she had prior to the marriage, and also any growth or appreciation from those prior separate assets. Additionally, it is common to agree that any inherited assets and their appreciation will remain the separate property of the spouse who received them.
By Doris B. Truhlar