Like many in New York and across the country, you rejoiced when same-sex couples received the right to marry. Finally, all couples had the same rights to a legally recognized and protected union. Perhaps you looked forward to the day when you would find someone to share your life.
If that day has come, you may be more than eager to exchange vows with this special person. You may be excitedly planning the event, from the caterer to the guest list to the vows. However, be careful not to skip an important element of your planning, and that is the drafting of a premarital agreement.
How can a prenup help us?
While every marriage is unique, same-sex marriages have many things in common with opposite-sex unions. Among those are the complications and varying opinions you and your spouse may bring to the marriage. Designing a prenuptial agreement is an ideal way to confront those differences and arrive at an agreement about how best to handle them, whether to protect the marriage or to bring it to an amicable end.
If you and your spouse already have careers, retirement funds, investments or even children from previous relationships, those factors are at risk when you combine your lives. You may wish to keep certain assets from entanglement with joint wealth. You may also use your prenuptial agreement to define your roles in the marriage, outline how to manage your incomes and protect one another from your individual debt. A premarital agreement cannot include decisions about child support, but it can designate part of your pre-marital wealth for your children.
After the vows
While drafting a marriage contract before the wedding is the better plan, there is another option if you have already married. A post-marital agreement may be appropriate if one of you has started a new business and wants to keep it separate from your joint assets. Marital contracts have also helped many same-sex couples who recognize volatile issues — such as infidelity or poor money management — arising in their union, and they want to create an agreement to head off future conflict.
To ensure you meet your best interests in the contract, it is wise for you and your spouse to have your own attorneys review the terms and offer advice. You may find it especially helpful to have the advocacy of an attorney who has experience with the challenges many same-sex couples face.