When an engaged couple makes their list of things to do to plan for their wedding, one often overlooked item is the prenuptial agreement. However, this is the best time to decide whether or not a prenup is right for you. It is a unique time for communication – a chance to inquire into the more profound thoughts and wishes of each other have.
For couples engaged to be married or even merely contemplating engagement, this window of open and supportive communication may be used to discuss marital planning and expectations and commit an agreement in writing in the form of a prenuptial agreement. With the assistance of a dedicated family law attorney, the drafting and entering into effect of a valid prenuptial agreement can help to allow each future spouse to enter the marriage with confidence and clarity.
Requirements for a Valid Prenuptial Agreement
Most state laws protect spouses be ensuring that prenuptial agreements meet certain fundamental requirements in order to be regarded as valid and thus enforceable. First, each party must enter into the prenuptial agreement voluntarily. Here, free will is key. An agreement signed under duress (e.g. “sign this or else”) is not valid.
Second, adequate deliberation is required. Specifically, each party must have at least one week to review the agreement before signing it.
Third, each party must receive a full disclosure of the other party’s financial and property obligations. These obligations include both assets and liabilities (wealth and debts). Transparency is a must; without it, the subject matter of a prenuptial agreement is incomplete.
Fourth, each party must have either been represented by their own attorney or have waived their right to an attorney.
Finally, a prenuptial agreement must not be unconscionable to either party. To be unconscionable is to be grossly unfair (typically with regard to the division of assets and liabilities).
Carefully Crafting a Valid Prenuptial Agreement
An experienced family law attorney will work to draft a valid prenuptial agreement that clearly expresses the intentions of each party with regard a number of considerations, including the division of property if the marriage ends, and whether one spouse will pay alimony to the other spouse in the event the couple splits up. A prenuptial agreement can also cover any other issues the couple may want to have addressed in the event the marriage does not work out.
There are some issues that may not be addressed in the prenup because of the way the laws of the state define that particular issue. For example, child custody and child support are covered under State law so these issues cannot be included in a prenup.
Call a Law Office Today
If you are engaged or considering marriage, contact a family lawyer to set up a confidential consultation to find out how a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your future spouse.