Prenuptial agreements can protect people financially in case of a divorce, but it is best if they are created with the interests of both individuals in mind. One woman who was asked by her boyfriend to sign a cohabitation agreement before they moved in together was shocked by some of its provisions. The agreement stated that if they married, she would not be eligible to any spousal support in case of divorce. It also said that she would not get any financial compensation for the home the man had purchased with the help of his mother even if she contributed significantly to the mortgage.

It is possible that this was simply the boilerplate document the man’s attorney presented to him in an attempt to protect the man. However, it is best if both people discuss their needs and preferences when creating a prenup. Both should also have access to legal counsel.

One way to handle a situation like this one, in which a person wants to protect a home purchased before the marriage, might be to have the other spouse get a certain percentage of equity in the home for each year of marriage. People also might want to consider a sunset clause. This clause says that after a certain amount of time, certain provisions or the entire agreement will expire.

A prenuptial agreement may be particularly important in a state like California, where property is supposed to be divided equally in case of a divorce. This means that if one spouse owns a home at the time of the marriage, the amount that the house has appreciated in value during the marriage could still be subject to division. Each spouse may also be able to claim half of a business, a retirement account and other property.