1. How do you want the property you and your spouse owned before the marriage to be treated when the marriage ends?
Decide whether your pre-marital property will always be separate and whether appreciation and other increases in value such as income from that property will also be separate. If you plan to live in a home one of you already owns, will you both contribute to its upkeep? If so, will the non-owner spouse ever have an interest in that home?
Be sure you know the identity and value of all the property you own at the time of the marriage because it needs to be listed in your agreement.
2. How do you want property either of you acquires during the marriage to be treated?
Property and income you receive from gifts, inheritances, or purchase with proceeds from the sale of property you had before the marriage can be part of your separate property or not depending on what your agreement says.
3. How do you want income earned by you and your spouse to be treated during the marriage and in case it should end?
This can include pension benefits and money you save from your earnings. Do you plan to have separate or joint bank accounts? How will you pay for your living expenses?
4. How do you want debt you have now to be treated?
If either of you have debts before the marriage, how will they be paid? Do you know what your fiance's credit rating is? This is a good time to ask.
5. Do you and your fiance plan to have joint property and debt?
Do you plan to buy a home or other property together during your marriage? Do you plan to have joint credit card accounts, mortgages, or other debt during the marriage? If so, how will the property and debt be paid for? Will you each pay equally or in some other proportion?
6. If you intend to maintain some property in your name alone, what should happen to that property if you die during the marriage?
What happens to your property when you die will be controlled primarily by your Will, or, if you have no Will, by the laws applicable in the state where you die. But if the state where you die gives rights to widows to receive certain minimum property or income, those rights can be waived in a prenuptial agreement along with other rights dealing with inheritances from spouses and estates.
7. What should happen to Separate Property if the marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment?
Without a prenuptial agreement, in the event of a divorce, legal separation or annulment, all of your property will be subject to division or assignment to your spouse by a court. You can take your chances on reaching an agreement about how to divide your property if that time comes. Or you can agree in your prenuptial agreement as to whether you will each keep all or some of your separate property if the marriage ends.
8. Will you or your spouse have the right to claim alimony if the marriage ends in divorce, legal separation or annulment?
There are no formulas for alimony orders in Connecticut. Whether alimony is ordered depends a great deal on the facts of each case. You and your fiance and waive the right to get alimony in a prenuptial agreement. Or you can agree that alimony will be paid only after a certain number of years or in a certain amount.
9. Should the answer to any of these questions depend on the length of the marriage or the cause of the breakdown?
Think about whether you would feel differently about how your property and income should be divided at the end of your marriage if you are married for 3 years or 35 years. This often matters to a court. How do you feel about it. This may depend on the reason for your prenuptial agreement. If one or both of you has been married before and has children for whom you wish to provide, that may affect your feelings about what is fair.
10. See an experienced family lawyer well before your wedding day
Once you have considered these questions and have some ideas about what you want your prenuptial agreement to do for you, you are ready to consult with a lawyer about the details and having an agreement drafted. Don't wait until the last minute. It is best if you both have time to consider the terms of your agreement and to have advice from your lawyer before the wedding day.
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