Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement

​After you have a steady girlfriend and your relationship has been going well for a long time, the next sound you hear may well be that of wedding bells. Congratulations are obviously in order, but have you considered what might happen if your new marriage turns sour and you end up getting a divorce? In an uncertain world with an uncertain economic future, more and more people now seem to be thinking about protecting their assets in the event their marriage ends in divorce.
As a result, divorce attorneys across the United States are reporting an increase in the number of requests for the creation of prenuptial agreements for their clients approaching marriage. Prenup agreements have now become so common they are considered a perfectly socially acceptable way for soon-to-be spouses to protect their assets before entering into a marriage. Once it may have seemed that only celebrities used prenuptial agreements to protect their assets, but today the practice seems to be moving more toward average everyday people with modest assets. If you are considering getting married anytime soon, you may want to consider creating a prenuptial agreement if you fall into one of the several categories that indicate the need for legal asset protection down the road.
Substantial Assets 
Anyone with substantial assets should probably consider a prenuptial agreement before getting married. Substantial assets including real estate, stocks, CDs, bonds, cash, or other retirement accounts acquired prior to a marriage are generally considered the separate property of the individual owner and will not change into marital or community property just because someone gets married. However, since there can obviously be exceptions to the general rules, a prenuptial agreement would clearly list of all of a person’s separate property prior to a marriage, and state in writing that both spouses agree the assets are to remain separate property in the event of a divorce.
Old Money
Even if a person does not have a lot of monetary wealth at the time they get married, if they stand to inherit a lot of money or property later when their parents eventually die, they probably will need a prenuptial agreement to spell out that the inheritance will be the sole and separate property of the recipient in the event of a divorce.
Large Debts
If you are marrying a girl with a lot of existing debts, much like protecting your assets, a prenup agreement can also be used to protect yourself against your spouse’s debts. A good prenup will clarify that a specific debt was established prior to your marriage and that you are not legally liable for her debts after a divorce.
If you or your spouse-to-be already have children prior to your marriage, you might want to consider a prenuptial agreement so that in the event of a death, divorce or other traumatic occurrence, the children will continue to be taken care of. 
While most prenuptial agreements are written to be binding for the full term of a marriage, it is also possible to create a prenup that only remains in effect until a specific future date. The stipulation that is known as a prenuptial sunset clause can be written to specify that the terms of the agreement will not be valid after a specified number of years of marriage. A sunset clause is basically an agreement between both spouses that says the prenup will be considered void after the marriage has lasted a set length of time. 
Prenuptial agreements with or without sunset clauses can only have a positive effect on a married relationship when both spouses agree on the terms and length of the agreement in advance. If you are unsure if you actually need such an agreement, or are unsure of how your girlfriend will react to such a proposition, prenuptial agreements might be a subject you want to avoid.