Four Things to Know About Prenuptial Agreements

The mere mention of a prenuptial agreement can inspire contention among couples, and even among future in-laws. Watch enough television shows where a soon-to-be newlywed brings up the subject to their spouse and its makes for dramatic viewing, sometimes leading to a breakup at the altar. In truth, prenups are not designed to introduce tension into new marriages or lead anyone to assume a divorce is inevitable. A prenup is a legal contract between an engaged couple that details what happens – and what doesn’t happen – to specific assets in the event your marital status changes.

Wedding Rings on Prenuptial Agreement

When you consult with a Suffolk family lawyer about a prenup, you’ll find that there’s more to drafting an agreement than what entertainment media portrays. At Bush & Taylor, P.C., we have helped many people draft prenuptial contracts that benefit both parties. If you have considered talking with an attorney before you say “I do,” here are some things to remember.

Prenups aren’t just for the rich. It makes sense for a wealthy person to establish terms protecting their finances before the wedding. However, anyone can have a prenup regardless of bank account size. Agreements may be drawn up to define obligations regarding assets and property not yet attained. For example, if you expect to inherit your mother’s jewelry in the future and want it to remain on your side of the family, you can define in the agreement that the jewelry cannot be included as an asset during a divorce.

An attorney can only represent one spouse. After you marry, you can retain one lawyer to help with other estate planning concerns. In a premarital agreement, however, a lawyer can only represent one half of the couple. Your soon-to-be spouse has the option of consulting with an attorney or negotiating terms on their own.

Prenups can be contested. Don’t assume a prenuptial agreement is ironclad. Virginia Code 20-151 notes that a prenup may be considered void under certain conditions. Say for example your spouse didn’t fully disclose their net worth or true value of their property, or you were forced to sign a prenup though you didn’t agree with it. Your lawyer can help you determine if you can have the agreement voided.

Prenups can’t help you with child custody. Premarital agreements cover protection of property, defined by Virginia Code 20-148 as physical property like a house, or present and future incomes and other earnings. You can’t determine who retains custody of any children born in the marriage in the event of divorce of death. For this, you’ll need to hire a divorce lawyer.

Prenup agreements in Virginia may cover a variety of issues, from spousal support to ownership of death benefits from a life insurance policy (Virginia Code 20-150). If you plan to marry and have questions about protecting your premarital assets, contact Bush & Taylor, P.C. today at 757-935-5544.