In the United States, famous couples and not so famous couples get divorced. A premarital agreement or colloquially known as a “prenup” is a contract that can be a useful planning tool for some couples. A premarital agreement is a contract that can alter your rights under the laws of Pennsylvania at death or divorce.

For example, if you are entering your second marriage and have children from a previous marriage, a premarital agreement is one method to ensure your children are protected.  Specific provisions can be drafted to ensure their protection. If you enter your first or second marriage with significant assets or you own a business or other have income streams or a vacation home; consider protecting your assets that accumulated prior to the marriage.

Gay couples who intend to marry may discuss a prenup as part of a broader plan. Once married in Pennsylvania, your partner is entitled to a share of your estate at death. This is referred to as an elective share. What this means is that if you try to cut your spouse out of your Will, your spouse can take still take a share of specific assets. A creative premarital agreement can waive the elective share and give the person waiving it other advantages in the agreement.

The most important thing to remember about premarital agreements is that they are part of a broader plan for you and your intended. The contract is not meant to be a punishment or a stigma. It is a valid tool for couples with differences in status entering marriage.

As a practical matter, people understand the divorce rate is high at 50% for first marriages and for second and third marriages the divorce rate is even higher.

It is important to discuss options with your attorney. The prenup can open up lines of communication for you and your intended about difficult topics prior to marriage. Don’t be dissuaded by initial responses.