Maybe you clicked on this article because you have a prenup that you created five years ago and are wondering if it’s still valid. Or maybe you haven’t gotten married yet and are just curious about how prenups work. You’ve come to the right place! “How long is a prenup valid for?” is a very common question in the prenup world. It’s pretty straightforward: prenups are generally valid through the entire marriage. However, you can add a clause that invalidates the prenup after a certain time. Keep reading to learn more about prenup expiration dates.
What is a prenup?
A prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a “prenup,” is a contract between two people who are about to get married. The contract becomes effective upon marriage. A prenup helps a couple work out issues, such as property division and alimony (i.e., spousal support), should their marriage ever come to an end. There are many things you can include in a prenup, such as property division, alimony, debt allocation, pet ownership, life insurance, and more.
How does it work? Well, you hope to never have to use your prenup, but if you do, it may streamline the divorce process by predetermining issues that you might have “fought” over otherwise. For example, let’s say you decide in your prenup that Spouse A will keep a certain investment account while Spouse B keeps certain real estate. In the divorce, you won’t have to waste time arguing over who gets the investment account and who gets the real estate because that’s already decided for you!
A prenup has many benefits, including saving you time, money, and sanity should you ever get a divorce. It is also an excellent tool for communication before marriage by forcing you two to talk about hard-hitting topics like divorce, death, and money. A prenup can help align the two of you on your life and financial goals, expectations, and roles. As you can see, prenups are a triple threat!
How long is a prenup valid for?
A prenup is generally valid through the duration of the parties’ marriage. Should the marriage ever go south, a valid prenup will kick in to determine certain issues of the divorce. Remember, a prenup is effective upon marriage, so if you don’t end up getting married, then your contract is not enforceable. However, you can include an “expiration date” on your prenup should you so choose. Those are commonly called sunset clauses.
What is a sunset clause (i.e., “expiration clause”)?
A sunset clause is effectively putting an expiration date on your prenup. You can “sunset” the agreement at a certain wedding anniversary date. For example, you can say the prenup will no longer be valid after your 10th wedding anniversary. You can choose any amount of time to sunset your agreement, be it wedding anniversary number 5, 11, 17, 20, or whatever number you feel comfortable with. Why would someone add this to their prenup? Well, they may believe that after a certain period of time, a prenup will no longer be necessary because the marriage has lasted for enough time. It can also be a great way to compromise with someone who does not want a prenup in the first place.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate how a couple might implement a sunset clause. Mark and Ashley are getting married next year. Ashley really wants to get a prenup to protect her assets, including a very large future inheritance from her grandfather. In general, Ashely has a lot more wealth than Mark because she comes from a wealthy family. Mark, on the other hand, doesn’t have many assets and is vehemently against a prenup, as he feels like he’s getting the short end of the stick. Ashley knows Mark loves her but wants reassurance that he’s not marrying her for the money, and Mark feels like it’s unfair to make that assumption. Ashley starts looking into prenups and realizes sunset clauses exist! It’s the perfect compromise, in her opinion, because she can have the reassurance that Mark is in it for the long haul while Mark can rest assured the prenup expires after a certain period. They collectively decide that they will have their sunset clause set for their 8-year wedding anniversary. After those eight years are up, the prenup is no longer valid. It’s truly a win-win for both spouses! They live happily ever after.
Can I make changes to my prenup after we get married?
Making changes to a prenup is typically called an amendment. The answer is “yes” you can usually amend your prenup after the wedding day as long as you meet the specific state requirements for prenup amendments.
You may also get a postnuptial agreement (a.k.a. postnup) which is done after you’re married instead of before getting married. You may include things like property division, spousal support, businesses, and more in a postnup. Keep in mind that postnups are not as widely accepted as prenups are and may be more likely to be unenforceable.
In general, prenups do not expire unless you include a sunset clause. A sunset clause is basically adding an expiration date to your prenup. If you’re thinking about changing your prenup after you get married, you can do so under certain requirements (look up your state’s law on prenup amendments to find out). And, not to worry, if you ran out of time or didn’t want a prenup before, but now you do, you can always opt for a postnup after the wedding day.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]