The basics of Louisiana prenuptial agreements

Once viewed as a black cloud over an otherwise joyous occasion, prenuptial agreements have begun to shed their gloomy reputation in recent years. Many of today's couples view prenuptial agreements as a reasonable precaution against the unexpected - not as a forecast of doom. In fact, some couples report that the process of working together to create a prenuptial agreement has actually helped to improve their relationship by encouraging communication and relieving some of the "what if?" anxieties that many people experience before getting married.

What can be covered in a Louisiana prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement establishes what each spouse's property and financial rights will be in the event that the marriage ends, whether through death or divorce. Prenuptial agreements can address a wide variety of topics, including:

  • How property will be distributed in the event of divorce
  • What property is separate and what is shared
  • Whether the spouses will be responsible for each other's debts
  • How to provide for children from previous relationships
  • Whether family property and heirlooms will stay in the family
  • How individual retirement assets and estate plans will be treated

Although discussing these issues can be unsettling, working them out in advance can provide peace of mind and can save a great deal of time and money by preventing future court battles.

Limits on prenuptial agreement in Louisiana

Prenuptial agreements can do a lot of different things, but there are a few topics that they can't cover. For instance, a prenuptial agreement generally can't be used to establish child custody rights or child support obligations, because the courts have authority to rule on these issues in order to protect the best interests of the child.

In addition, under Louisiana law, a prenuptial agreement cannot be used to limit a spouse's right to receive alimony in the event of divorce. Also known as spousal support, alimony payments can be ordered by a judge to correct for an unfair economic disadvantage that one spouse may suffer as a result of divorce, such as when a stay-at-home parent is left without an income.

Who needs a prenuptial agreement?

Many people are surprised to discover that prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich and famous, but in fact can benefit couples from more ordinary walks of life as well. A prenuptial agreement is especially advisable under any of the following circumstances:

  • One or both spouses have children from a previous relationship
  • One spouse has significantly higher assets or income potential than the other
  • One spouse has substantially more debt than the other
  • One spouse plans to support the other through college, graduate school or any other educational program

Prenuptial agreements are also generally a good idea for couples who marry later in life, when each spouse is likely to have acquired substantial assets such as savings accounts, real estate, stock portfolios or retirement benefits.

Contact an attorney

For help creating a prenuptial agreement that meets your needs and is enforceable under Louisiana law, contact an experienced family law attorney.