Couples might be hesitant about entering marriage contracts out of fear that a contract pre-supposes the demise of a relationship. I prefer to look at marriage contracts as a way of getting your financial house in order before you begin a new phase of life. Domestic contracts are akin to a life insurance policy or a will—sensible wealth management and planning tools that deal with future possibilities and permit you to structure your affairs as you see fit.
Raising the contract issue is delicate. It forces a candid and honest discussion about money and requires you to discuss your future plans and expectations: Will you each be financially self-sufficient or do you anticipate forming one financial unit? What if you stay home to care for children? Do your support or property entitlements change if the relationship lasts five or even 25 years? Do you want the same result if the relationship ends due to either separation or death? Do you share the house value equally (even if one spouse owned it before marriage or one spouse contributed more to the house than the other)? What if you work in or have shares in a family business or expect to receive a large gift or inheritance? What if one spouse has significantly more debt than the other? A marriage contract can address all of these issues and more.
A common marriage contract provision deals with the matrimonial home. Spouses enter into a contract in order to ensure either that they only share the increase in value of the matrimonial home during the marriage (rather than its entire value) or to prevent the sharing of a home owned solely by one spouse. Without a contract, the law mandates equal sharing of the value of the matrimonial home.
Get family law advice before your wedding about whether a marriage contract would make sense for you. Feel free to contact me. I would be pleased to assist.