What You Need in a Marriage Agreement

A Marriage agreement is a legal contract that sets forth the terms of a marriage in writing. They are often used to protect individuals from getting taken advantage of but the best agreements also incentivize cooperation to achieve a happy marriage.

Cohabitation clauses should explain how living expenses will be paid for and chores completed. Will they be shared and who is responsible? These clauses should explain the living situations prior to the engagement and set forth a plan for living arrangements for both parties should the engagement end. It is important to ensure that no one ends up on the street.

Asset Division clauses should distinguish between property that was acquired prior to the marriage and after the marriage began. These clauses set rules for spitting up the different types of assets should the engagement end. Often premarital assets are retained while those acquired during the marriage are split up.

Custody clauses determine the full-time guardian and visitation times for children and pets. Often this is a big fighting point that hurts relationships even more. If these decisions are made ahead of time there is one less thing to fight about later.

Parenting clauses go into more detail than custody clauses. They may add specific programs, organizations, and habits that are to be promoted to a child both during and after a marriage.

Financial clauses explain how investments and insurance are to be used and maintained during the course of marriage, and after for the general well-being of the family. Life, health, & disability insurance, retirement accounts, savings accounts and operating agreements should all be taken into consideration and used properly.

Support clauses explain how spouses may financially support each other and whether the support should continue, if the sides split.  Often times when there is a more significant bread winner they will provide some amount of support until the other gets on their feet. If there are children, the younger they are, the more this amount may be.

Loyalty clauses can seal a marriage agreement by creating incentives for staying together and disincentives for infedelity. This way you can put penalties on cheating, such as getting less custody and fewer assets. You can also add incentives such as more guaranteed custody or assets for each year of marriage.