There are a lot of things to consider before getting married, like where you will live and whether you want to start a family. But you might also want to consider taking steps to protect your financial future. One way to do this is by signing a premarital agreement.
What Is a Premarital Agreement?
A premarital agreement is a written agreement between prospective spouses that sets forth each party’s property rights and obligations. It takes effect when the couple marries and generally contemplates how property will be divided if the couple divorces. But the agreement might also determine how property should be handled during the marriage.
For example, a premarital agreement might establish:
- each spouse’s right to buy, sell, use, transfer or otherwise manage and control property
- how property will be divided if the couple separates or if a spouse dies, and
- whether one spouse is owed spousal support if the marriage ends.
Note that child support and custody cannot be determined in a premarital agreement. Courts resolve those issues based on the best interests of the child, and not on the best interests of the spouses.
Why Do I Need a Premarital Agreement?
There are many reasons a couple might want a premarital agreement. For example, spouses who come into a marriage with a lot of money or property might want to protect those assets from division in case of divorce.
Other reasons include:
- One or both spouses have children from an earlier marriage and want to protect their financial inheritance.
- One spouse was a business owner before the marriage and wants to protect those business interests in case the marriage ends.
- Disclosing all of your financial information upfront to avoid future arguments about your finances.
Talk to each other about your financial goals and whether a premarital agreement is right for you. An experienced attorney can help you understand what this decision entails.
When Is a Premarital Agreement Unenforceable?
A premarital agreement, like any contract, is not binding if:
- The agreement wasn’t entered into voluntarily, like if one party coerced the other into signing it.
- The agreement is unconscionable, which means it is extremely one-sided or otherwise unjust.
- A provision eliminating or modifying spousal support makes one of the parties eligible for public assistance.
To decide whether an agreement is unconscionable, the court will consider whether the party:
- Received a fair disclosure of the other party’s financial obligations and property,
- Voluntarily and expressly waived (in writing) the right to additional disclosures regarding the other party’s financial obligations and property, and
- Had adequate knowledge of the other party’s financial obligations and property.
An experienced attorney can help enforce a valid premarital agreement or help contest an invalid agreement.
Contact Us Today
The family law attorneys at the HVW Law Group can help you negotiate an equitable premarital agreement with your prospective spouse, enforce an existing agreement, or contest an unconscionable or other invalid agreement. Contact us today for a free consultation. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.