Why Should I Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, which also may be referred to as a “premarital agreement,” is a legal agreement entered into between two parties who are planning to be married to each other. In order to be valid, the agreement must be properly signed by both parties before the marriage. 

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Many people think of a prenuptial agreement as a legal document used by celebrities and wealthy individuals to protect their income and assets in the event of divorce. This may foster common misconceptions that a prenuptial agreement must be advantageous to one party and detrimental to the other, or that a spouse who insists on a prenuptial agreement does not have faith in the success of the marriage. However, a prenuptial agreement can be crafted to be beneficial to both parties. Among other things, the agreement can:

·       specify how each party will contribute to household finances during the marriage;

·       waive claims for post-separation support or alimony in the event of separation or divorce;

·       specify the terms and amounts under which post-separation support or alimony may be paid;

·       identify assets and debts that are to be classified as marital property; and/or

·       identify assets and debts that are to be classified as the separate property of each spouse. This may include a wealthier party agreeing to transfer certain assets to the other party as his/her separate property in order to ensure financial security.

When people get married later in life, or have been previously married, they are more likely to have accumulated separate property, such as business interests, real estate, and retirement benefits, which they may prefer to protect in the event of divorce or pass on to their children upon death. Assets that are inherited by a new spouse may potentially be passed down to step-children or in-law relatives. A prenuptial agreement can work in conjunction with your estate planning and reduce uncertainty and costly litigation in the event of separation or divorce.

Broaching the idea of a prenuptial agreement with a prospective spouse may be a daunting task, and it is undoubtedly one of the less romantic aspects of planning for a marriage. However, financial difficulties continue to be one of the leading causes of divorce. Discussing a prenuptial agreement with your prospective spouse can help you determine if you are financially compatible by providing an opportunity for each of you to openly discuss your respective incomes, expenses, assets, debts, spending habits, and financial goals. Entering a marriage with such financial disclosures can protect both parties from unexpected surprises and can contribute to the success of your future marriage.

Whether you are in need of legal advice to weigh your options, or require representation in negotiating and/or preparing a prenuptial agreement, the family law attorneys at Siemens Family Law Group can provide you with the counsel and guidance to make informed decisions, avoid potential pitfalls, and ensure that you understand the legal ramifications of your agreement. Through years of dedicated practice, our attorneys have the learned experience to negotiate and prepare a prenuptial agreement that is tailored to meet your specific needs and ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

This article is intended for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. This article is based on North Carolina laws in effect at the time of posting.