What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement, or commonly as a “prenup”) is a written contract entered into between two people who are planning to be married. A prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties prior to the marriage. The agreement becomes effective upon their marriage.
Why Should I Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?
Many people think of a prenuptial agreement as a legal document that is used by a wealthy spouse to protect his/her wealth, income, or inheritance from the other spouse. People who have substantial wealth, high incomes, and/or own businesses may be more likely to desire the protection of a prenuptial agreement. However, prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrities or the rich. In the United States today, couples often marry later in life and they are more likely to enter into marriage with assets and/or children from a prior relationship. Anyone who has assets, income, or children that they would like to protect in the event of divorce or death may benefit from a prenuptial agreement.
The terms of a prenuptial agreement can be very broad, but generally such agreements are used to establish rights and entitlements to assets and property in the event of divorce or death, and clarify financial responsibilities that the parties anticipate during marriage. More specifically, a prenuptial agreement can be drafted to specify that:
- The separate property of each party which was acquired before the marriage (including assets, debts, and personal property) will remain separate property during and after the marriage;
- The amount of alimony a party will receive, if any, upon dissolution of the marriage;
- How marital property (property acquired during the marriage) will be disposed of in the event of the death of a spouse or dissolution of the marriage;
- How each party will contribute to the purchase of a marital home, how it will be titled, and who will be responsible for the mortgage;
- If the marital home was owned by one party prior to the marriage, that such real property remains that party’s separate property during the marriage; and
- How separate and marital debt will be carried or shared by the parties.
People who have children from a prior relationship can use a prenuptial agreement to ensure that certain assets are distributed to their children upon their death rather than being left to a spouse who may potentially pass such assets on to stepchildren or in-law relatives. A prenuptial agreement does not have to be one-sided; it can be tailored to meet the needs and protect the interests of both the parties. For example, a prenuptial agreement can be structured to benefit a dependent or less wealthy spouse by containing provisions that provide for a specific distribution of income or assets to that spouse in the event of separation or divorce.
Discussing a prenuptial agreement may not be romantic, but it can provide an opportunity to have an open and honest discussion with your prospective spouse regarding each other’s assets and debts, incomes and expenses, how each of you anticipate contributing to marital or household expenses, and how you anticipate having property distributed in the event of divorce or death.
Attorney Daphne Edwards provides legal services to those in need of a prenuptial agreement. Ms. Edwards will work with you to develop a solid prenuptial agreement that complies with applicable laws and best suits your needs and protects your interests.
Ms. Edwards also provides legal representation to clients who are in need of an experienced attorney to:
- review and offer legal advice on a prenuptial agreement prepared by someone else;
- seek to enforce the provisions of a prenuptial agreement; and
- seek to have an invalid prenuptial agreement set aside.
Attorney Daphne Edwards has earned a reputation for providing top-notch legal services to clients throughout the Raleigh-Durham area. She devotes her practice exclusively to the areas of family law and appellate law.