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If an F-1 student in the US, gets married with a US citizen, how can he protect his money if a divorce happened in the future? Specifically if he has a plan to establish a company and run a business after he graduated, how can he keep all the rights and money/stuck/profit he will earn from his company and won't share it after a probable divorce? Should they wright something like "we promise we won't have any claims about each other's money after the divorce" before they get married?

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    If they are not already married, then what is needed is a prenuptial agreement. Commented May 1, 2022 at 16:32
  • @RBarryYoung: Thank you so much for your comment. I think prenuptial agreement is what exactly I was looking for. Can I ask if there is any legal form/template for that we should fill out and sign? Or it could be anything/any format document couples write in a plain paper and sign it? Also, should this agreement be submitted in a jurisdiction or notary before getting divorce?
    – user18286
    Commented May 1, 2022 at 18:10
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    @WDR "any legal form/template for that we should fill out and sign?" Most likely there are, but I strongly encourage you to do a thorough research instead of trying to fit your particular situation/concern in a generic template. It is in your best interest to get acquainted with court opinions involving prenuptial agreements. These opinions often reflect how parties try to overcome/void a prenup. Many of the court opinions reproduce excerpts of those agreements, which will give you ideas for coming up with robust terms. Commented May 1, 2022 at 18:25
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    @IñakiViggers wouldn't it be more fruitful to do a modest amount of research and then spend a few hundred dollars hiring a lawyer to handle the actual drafting of the agreement?
    – phoog
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 11:41
  • @phoog "wouldn't it be more fruitful". Hard to tell. A modest amount of research might not be enough for detecting any material flaws in the lawyer's draft. For "only" a few hundred dollars the OP is likely to end up getting a draft that is much of a copy/paste and which might or might not cover the specifics of his situation. Commented May 5, 2022 at 12:21

2 Answers 2

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If an F-1 student in the US, gets married with a US citizen, how can he protect his money if a divorce happened in the future? Specifically if he has a plan to establish a company and run a business after he graduated, how can he keep all the rights and money/stuck/profit he will earn from his company and won't share it after a probable divorce? Should they wright something like "we promise we won't have any claims about each other's money after the divorce" before they get married?

A prenuptial agreement is possible, and only an idiot or fool would draft one himself. An agreement drafted without legal representation would be highly likely to be invalidated in an effort to enforce it in the event of a divorce. Generally, both parties should have separate counsel. This must be accompanied by full financial disclosure by both parties, at least an opportunity to confer with legal counsel providing full informed consent regarding the rights given up in the agreement, and no undue pressure to sign it on the eve of a wedding. It cannot impact child support or child custody.

It must also not be unconscionable to either spouse, either at the time it is executed or at the time of a divorce. If the company makes millions of dollars over the course of a ten year marriage, a court would not enforce the agreement according to those terms.

In the case of an immigrant marrying a U.S. citizen, having a prenuptial agreement is usually a significant barrier to obtaining a spousal visa, which may be the only visa available after the marriage, on the grounds that this is considered a "yellow flag" that the marriage may actually be a sham for citizenship purposes only. A typical immigration officer who would read a post like this one or hearing an explanation for its purpose in an interview in those words would seriously consider denying a spousal visa or U.S. citizenship on the ground that the marriage is a fraud.

The notion of a "probable divorce" in particular would almost certainly doom visa approval or a citizenship application, and would also, at the margins, make it less likely that it would be enforced at all.

This is particularly true in the event of the very one-sided agreement proposed when you have a young couple that doesn't have established assets and children from prior marriages, or a pre-existing substantial amount of inherited wealth.

Why else would a spouse agree to it?

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All property gathered during the marriage must be faithfully declared during divorce proceedings.

Both parties must give honest representation of their financial position.

If you start the business after you get hitched and you get married in communion of property then it is unlikely that a claim to a part of the equity from an ex-spouse would not be a success.

You seem to be under the common misconception that the money of a company that you have shares in is your money.

This is a common problem in the SME (Small-to-medium enterprise) world. The company is a separate legal entity. Its profits are its own profits.

Although an ex-wife can make a claim to a part of the equity, the company's profit is neither yours nor hers.

The only exception to this is a dividend payment. Companies are not forced to pay dividends. There are companies that have never paid one.

Outside a dividend payment, a company's assets, liabilities and profit have nothing particular to do with shareholders. That is the whole point of having a business that is a separate legal entity.

You can of course be both a shareholder and an employee. Still the money of the company would not be yours.

I know a lot of owners in the SME world take money out of the business to pay school fees of children and go on holiday.

What then often happens is that the 7 lean years hit and they have no cash flow to help them survive an economic downturn.

Smart business owners will pay themselves a salary to live off and save all the extra cash the business makes for the inevitable economic downturn.

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    Please expand "SME" at least once in this answer. Commented May 5, 2022 at 15:56
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    That may have been a local piece of language. I realise that now.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented May 5, 2022 at 18:25
  • Thnks. Even fairly well-known acronyms should usually be expanded once in posts on Law.SE, because there are often some readers who do not know them Commented May 5, 2022 at 21:08

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