Prenuptial Agreements & Alimony: Issues for Those Planning to MarryMany marital partners with advanced degrees and professional training opt out of the economy presuming that their financial interests are protected even if they assume primary responsibility for domestic and childrearing duties. While marriage has many dimensions, one of the ways of understanding marriage involves the joining of a couple to form a financial partnership with a division of labor by each spouse. Often one spouse (historically the wife) will forgo pursuing career advancement and development so that the other spouse can focus on increasing his or her earning ability.

This arrangement is in many ways no different than a business partnership where one partner focuses on operations and production while the other assumes exclusive responsibility for business development. The problem is that business partnerships and marriage often do not last forever. The process of winding down a business or ending a marriage can create financial hardships for the partner in a business that had no involvement with clients or the marital partner who has assumed the primary responsibility for taking care of the children.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that spouses may wish to seek the protection of a prenuptial agreement before opting out of a career. A spouse with legal training, an engineering degree, medical license, or MBA may find that the degree or training does not open many doors for a party who has been out of the job market for 15 to 20 years during a marriage. Further, the passage of time means that spouses opting out of a career during marriage may possess knowledge and training that has not kept up with changes and advances in their occupation. While some of these issues can be addressed with ongoing professional seminars and training, there is little that can be done to make up two decades of lost experience and accomplishments that normally facilitate career advancement.

Although a spouse may be entitled to long-term alimony following a marriage of twenty years or more to compensate for these sacrifices, a prenuptial agreement may provide a better alternative to ensure that there is a mutual understanding of the extent of the sacrifice that the spouse opting out of the economy is making to take care of domestic tasks. While many people are somewhat uncomfortable discussing prenuptial agreements, this discussion is important because it increases the probability that both spouses have realistic expectations about the extent of the financial sacrifice being made as well as the fair level of alimony to compensate for this sacrifice. The amount of alimony might even be tiered in a prenuptial agreement based on the number of years that the parties are married with one spouse opting out of a professional career.

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The above information is designed solely to illustrate general principles of law, and does not constitute a specific legal opinion on individual cases. We suggest that you contact experienced legal counsel for a specific opinion tailored to your individual circumstances.

The point is that you should seek legal advice prior to getting married if you are considering opting out of the workforce despite an established career and/or advanced or professional degrees, our experienced New Mexico Prenuptial Attorneys and Albuquerque Alimony Lawyers may be able to help. Jay Goodman & Associates offers a free consultation in our centrally located offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque so that we can discuss your situation and answer your questions. Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (505) 989-8117 to learn about your rights and options.


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