Creighton McLean & Shea PLC
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Could a sunset clause make a prenup more palatable?

It's not uncommon to dread the mere idea of bringing up the subject of a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse. It isn't exactly the most romantic topic in the world, is it? Plus, there's always the possibility that your intended will react badly to the whole idea. After all, who wants to be bound to what could amount to a lifetime contract?

Well, consider bringing up the idea of a prenup with a "sunset" clause and see how your future spouse feels about that instead. That might ease tensions and convince your sweetheart that a prenup isn't such a bad idea.

What's a sunset clause?

Basically, a sunset clause puts an expiration date on whatever prenuptial agreement you make. You can agree to any time frame -- one year, five years or more. Once those years pass in wedded bliss, the prenup expires. All the agreements you made are voided, and it will be as if you never had one in the first place.

What does a sunset clause accomplish?

A sunset clause can give you plenty of time to make sure that the marriage works without endangering your assets in a divorce. The rest of the prenup will spell out exactly what each party will walk away with in the event of a divorce for as long as the prenup is in effect. In addition, it can reassure your spouse that you're equally invested in a long-term marriage and are willing to equally share the proceeds of a long life together.

Is there room for negotiation?

Absolutely! You can even write in a sunset clause that "fades" out and becomes less restrictive on certain anniversaries. For example, you can agree to pay your spouse alimony once your fifth wedding anniversary passes, even though other restrictions remain in effect for another five years or more.

For more advice on how to make sure that your prenuptial is effective and does what you'd like it to do, an experienced family law attorney can help.

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