The Will and Kate Marriage: Is a Royal Prenuptial Agreement in Order?

The engagement between Prince William and Kate Middleton has captured public attention for months, and the wedding was a global media event. Yet for all the high pomp and ceremony, this young couple faces many of the same realities that any couple must consider as they embark on a life together.

Because both Will and Kate come from backgrounds of wealth and privilege, they each will bring a complex array of assets and entitlements to their marriage. And that has some commentators looking at the necessity of a premarital agreement to resolve marital property division decisions and other issues should they ever divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are not as common under British divorce law as they are in America. In fact, it was only last year that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom finally gave broader recognition to such contracts, after London had become a magnet for high-profile divorces of foreign citizens seeking to avoid premarital agreements.

As the second in line to the throne, William has much to consider about his future, and he is obviously aware of the fact that his parents, as well as three of his aunts and uncles, have been through at least one divorce. With so many factors at stake, the wisdom of resolving property issues and other possible disputes in advance is crystal clear.

Prenuptial Agreements Can Help Couples Avoid Marital Strife in the Future

Regardless of the complexity of a couple's financial affairs, a premarital agreement can help them begin their marriage with honest disclosure and an awareness of areas that might lead to future disputes. Contrary to some individual's belief that a prenup simply sets the stage for a future divorce, the integrity of the process actually gives couples important tools to avoid future conflicts. The mere discussion of financial management, concerns and objectives often prevents future misunderstandings and thus helps maintain a healthy relationship.

In California, income earned during marriage is considered community income and the investments made from them during the marriage are presumed to be community property. Spouses-to-be can stipulate via their premarital contract that such earnings shall be each person's separate property. Prenups can also deal with issues surrounding the couple's primary residence, future inheritances, a growing business or financial issues involving children that one spouse has from a previous relationship. With some restrictions and requirements, spouses may even deal with limitations on future spousal support.

For Will and Kate, one other advantage of a prenup is that it can help them keep many aspects of a future divorce out of public scrutiny. To that end, the couple has not disclosed whether they entered into a prenuptial agreement. That's the case for any California couple, as well. But it is vital that both parties consult separately with their own California family law attorney to make sure their individual interests are protected.