For some, antenuptial contracts might sound more like you are trying to make conditions surrounding your marriage or make it more like a business transaction than one of the happiest days of your life. This thought could not be further from the truth. Instead, antenuptial contracts can provide you and your future spouse extra security not only from one another but also from outside sources. So what are some benefits of getting married with an antenuptial contract in place?
Setting up an antenuptial contract before marriage ensures that your assets are protected in case of divorce or death. Also, if one of the spouses gets into debt or needs to be liquidated, the other spouse’s assets are protected. There are two types of antenuptial contracts: with or without accrual.
Before signing any contract, it would be best to know all the details. Firstly, you should understand what antenuptial contracts are and that there is more than one option for you. Once you know the basics of an antenuptial contract, you can appreciate their benefits as a married couple.
Antenuptial Contracts: What Are They?
Antenuptial contracts go by various names, including Prenups, prenuptial agreement, Prenuptial contract, Prenupt, premarital agreement, marriage contract, or antenuptial agreement. Ultimately, this is a contract that two parties will enter before being legally married or entering a civil union.
It will stipulate the terms and conditions to exclude the community of property between the two parties. It also means that you will not be married in community of property, which is the default type of marriage if there is no antenuptial contract. Instead, you will be married out of community of property.
In this case, each potential spouse will retain complete control over their financial and other assets. It also means that if one of the spouses is declared insolvent, the other spouse’s property is protected from the creditors of the insolvent spouse.
One important aspect to remember when dealing with antenuptial contracts is that they need to be registered with the Government Deeds Office before you are legally married and within three months of the date when you signed the contract.
What Are The Benefits Of Antenuptial Contracts?
It is entirely understandable that you might feel like signing a contract of this nature insinuates that your spouse doesn’t trust you, or you might worry that if you ask for an antenuptial contract (ANC), your spouse might think that you do not trust them. This sentiment might be true in some unfortunate cases, but an ANC can benefit both spouses in others.
Some of the benefits of getting an ANC include:
- You will not be held liable for any debt your spouse might have accumulated before marriage.
- You will not be held liable for any debts your spouse might accumulate during your marriage.
- Your or your spouse’s assets may be protected, especially if either owns a business registered in their name. In this case, you or your spouse may wish to register your residential property in only one of your names, preferably in the spouse’s name with the lowest risk factor. Each spouse’s assets will also be safe if one of the spouses is sequestrated.
- You have the option of entering into a commercial transaction without the consent of your spouse.
- You or your spouse might have assets accumulated before getting married that you prefer to be excluded from the joint estate.
- You will retain control over your assets, build your estates, and be responsible for your debts.
The benefits above show that antenuptial contracts can create safety within a marriage, protecting both spouses from future situations they cannot foresee.
If you are still worried about keeping everything separate in your marriage, you might be happy to know that there are two types of antenuptial contracts, with and without accrual.
The Two Types Of Antenuptial Contracts
There are two ways that you can set up your antenuptial contract, with accrual and without. Both of these types of antenuptial contracts have pros and cons and ways that they can be beneficial. It is up to you and your spouse which way you would prefer it.
Antenuptial Contract Without Accrual
Within this type of antenuptial contract, both parties will keep their estates separate, meaning that the liabilities and assets you accrued before marriage will remain in your estate. It also means that any assets or liabilities you or your spouse accrue during your marriage will remain separate.
In the event of divorce, you and your spouse will retain your individual assets and liabilities, meaning that neither you nor your spouse can put forth a claim on the other assets. You will also not be liable for any debt your spouse may have accrued during the marriage, nor will your spouse be responsible for any debt you may have accrued.
Pros of antenuptial contracts without accrual:
- You have the right to keep your individual assets and liabilities, handling them however you wish.
- You are not liable for your spouse’s debts and vice versa.
- The economically stronger spouse legally does not have to share their assets with the economically weaker spouse. Unless otherwise stated by the courts in the event of divorce.
Cons of antenuptial contracts without accrual:
- The economically weaker spouse does not get access to the estate of the economically stronger spouse, even if they have contributed financially.
- Antenuptial contracts need to be entered into before marriage and cost to set up.
Antenuptial Contracts With Accrual
Antenuptial contracts with accrual are often thought of as the fairest marriage option. An antenuptial contract with accrual allows each spouse to maintain ownership of all assets and liabilities before entering a legal marriage. Still, they share any wealth or debt they accrue while married, as set out in the Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984.
To have this arrangement, you will need to draft your antenuptial contract in a specific way. This accrual system incorporates a calculation that you would apply in the event of divorce. The calculation includes:
- You would draft a list of all the assets belonging to the spouses.
- Deducting any assets that were excluded in the Antenuptial contract.
- Minus any assets that were acquired by virtue of possession, inheritance, donations, or legacies.
- Deduct any liabilities and debts.
- Deduct the commencement value, as stated in the antenuptial contract, and adjust by CPI.
- The net remainder will be the estate’s accrual, which you can divide between the spouses.
Pros of antenuptial contracts with accrual:
- You do not legally have to share your assets from before the marriage.
- You share the wealth accumulated during the marriage, allowing the economically weaker spouse to benefit.
- You do not have a joint estate, which allows each spouse to maintain control over their estate.
- You will not be held liable for any debt your spouse may incur during your marriage.
Cons of antenuptial contracts with accrual
- If you are an economically stronger spouse, you will have to share any profit you made while married.
- You will need to enter into an antenuptial contract for it to apply.
- Calculating the accrual when a marriage ends can be rather complex.
Our Burnett Attorneys & Notaries team is skilled at drawing up antenuptial contracts that will make both spouses happy and satisfied. Drawing up antenuptial contracts can be a lengthy and complex process requiring a registered notary to draw them up and deliver them to the deeds office. We strive to make this process as stress free as possible as it is one part of a very happy occasion. If you would like to speak to one of our team about your options or make an appointment to draw up an antenuptial contract, please don’t hesitate to contact us.