Pennsylvania law calls for the equitable division of marital estates, but that does not mean married couples in the Keystone State are unable to decide for themselves how their assets will be divided should they choose to divorce. Drafting a prenuptial agreement allows couples to avoid acrimony while addressing thorny issues like property division and spousal support, and these documents may also help marriages to endure by providing spouses with a clear understanding of where they stand.
Assents owned prior to a marriage and certain assets acquired during a marriage are considered separate property and are not divided during a divorce. However, determining what is and what is not separate property is sometimes difficult due to a process known as commingling. Commingling occurs when separate assets are mixed with marital property. A common example of commingling is using an inheritance, which would usually be considered separate property, to improve the family home, which is likely a marital asset. A prenuptial agreement can address these issues proactively.
Prenuptial agreements can also be of great benefit when one of the spouses involved runs a business. Investors may be reluctant to put money into a commercial venture that could be divided in a divorce, but drafting a prenuptial agreement could assure them that business operations would not be affected if the founder’s marriage ends. Venture capitalists have been known to demand prenuptial agreements to avoid these problems.
Prenuptial agreements could be challenged in court, and judges may view them unfavorably if their terms are unfairly harsh. Experienced family law attorneys may seek to avoid this pitfall by drafting prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that are essentially equitable. Attorneys may urge spouses to disclose all of their assets during prenuptial agreement negotiations and negotiate in good faith, and they might also recommend revisiting these documents periodically to ensure that the terms remain fair.