What is a Premarital Agreement?
Premarital Agreements (also known as prenuptial agreements or prenups) are contracts entered into by prospective spouses which become effective upon marriage. Prenups are authorized in North Carolina by North Carolina General Statutes section 52B. These premarital agreements, to be valid and legally enforceable, must be in writing and signed by both parties. Typically, prenuptial agreements are intended to settle certain legal rights or obligations which might arise if the couple later separates or divorces.
What Issues Can You Address in a Premarital Agreement?
The primary purpose of a premarital agreement is to determine financial matters for the marrying couple. Typically, prenups address: 1) How the parties deal with their separate property (property that they bring to the marriage) during the marriage, in the event of separation and/or divorce; 2) How the parties deal with property that they acquire during the marriage (property that would otherwise be subject to equitable distribution) during the marriage, in the event of separation and/or divorce; 3) Spousal support obligations which might otherwise arise from the marriage (post-separation support or alimony); and 4) How property will be dealt with in the event of the death of either spouse.
Who Needs a Premarital Agreement?
While most couples could benefit from a customized premarital agreement, certain couples might want to give more consideration to a prenup than others. If there are significant income or asset disparities between you and your spouse, you may want to consider a prenup to avoid alimony or loss of retirement benefits in the event of divorce. If this is your second marriage and you have children from a previous marriage to whom you would like your estate to go (rather than your spouse), you may want to consider a premarital agreement.
What Issues Cannot Be Address in a Prenuptial Agreement?
While a prenup can be used to deal with several issues in the event of separation and divorce, it cannot take away the court’s ability to determine matters of child custody and child support.
You Should Meet w/ a Family Law Attorney if You Are Considering a Pre-Nup.
If you are considering a premarital agreement or if your prospective spouse has presented you with a draft premarital agreement, you should meet with a family law attorney. Understandably, many prospective spouses will look to do-it-yourself prenups or online premarital agreements as a way to save money. Unfortunately, too often the mistakes (unintended consequences) of entering into a premarital agreement are not known to you until it is too late – i.e., you have signed the prenup and are separated or considering separation when you discover the meaning of the terms of your prenup. The benefits of a well thought through and properly drafted prenuptial agreement can save you tons of money … the consequences of a poorly thought through or poorly drafted prenup could cost you tons. Sample prenups you get online may include language which you would not want if you understood its legal consequence or may not include vital language that your specific situation requires.
During your consultation with our family law attorney you will learn all about the variety of issues you can address in your prenup, the issues you should (or should not address), and different ways to address those issues. Typically our family law attorney will quote you a flat-fee to draft the agreement based on the complexity of your assets and goals.