How does a prenup play out for married and unmarried couples?
Nowadays, increasing numbers of people are paying more attention to their careers than to their personal lives, hoping to develop full relationships and perhaps families only after they have achieved some level of financial security. Many of these people often choose to live together first to see if their relationships will work out, perhaps not wanting to be just another statistic noted in the high U.S. divorce rate.
In some sense, though, financial security can be harder to find and maintain when in an extramarital relationship. People who choose to live together often spend considerable amounts of money on furnishings, sometimes accumulating debt in the process. Unlike married couples who do more or less the same, couples who are not married can be financially vulnerable if their relationships end. One or both parties can lose property and whatever they paid out during the relationship. The property division process for married couples, however, allows both spouses to claim half of all marital properties.
Moreover, if a couple should decide to marry, whatever the two parties have brought into the relationship on their own can be protected by a prenuptial agreement so that it will remain theirs if the couple later files for divorce. An agreement similar to a prenup, however, can also be used as a cohabitation agreement that protects the finances of one unmarried partner in the event the relationship ends.
For couples who are not living together but who plan to marry, a prenuptial agreement can clarify which assets should be exempt from property division. The agreement can encompass assets from before the marriage as well as those acquired during the marriage, such as gifts or any inheritance received.
Source: Forbes, “Prenuptial Agreements for Cohabitants,” accessed March 10, 2015