Premarital and Postnuptial Agreement Lawyer
When a couple enters into marriage, they typically intend for that marriage to last the rest of their lives. However, the reality is that 50 percent of marriages in America today end in divorce. You need to protect your family and your children.
While young couples may not wish to acknowledge the possibility of divorce down the road, it’s an important consideration when it comes to protecting your personal assets and property, especially given the staggering divorce rate in this country.
One common way that couples protect their property rights is to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are made prior to entering a marriage, while postnuptial agreements are made during the marriage.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are legally binding documents enforceable by a court, so it’s always a good idea to get an attorney involved when creating one. Your attorney will look out for your interests and can even help you negotiate certain aspects of the agreement with the other party.
If you have questions about how prenuptial and postnuptial agreements work or need help drafting your agreement, contact the Virginia Beach marital law attorney at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. Call (757) 962-5588 today.
Issues and Matters Protected
Many people believe that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy couples, who stand to lose a lot in a potential divorce. However, regardless of your economic status, you should consider a prenuptial agreement if you are planning to marry. Although no couple plans to get divorced when they tie the knot, protecting your premarital assets and deciding how you will divide property in the event of a divorce can prevent nasty disputes if you and your spouse do eventually separate.
Virginia Code Section 20-150 establishes guidelines for what can be included in a prenuptial agreement. Some of the matters that can be determined through a prenuptial agreement include:
- Each party’s rights and responsibilities in relation to property that either or both of them own
- Each person’s right to purchase, sell, lease, use, transfer, exchange, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property
- Property division upon separation, death, or the occurrence of some other event
- Spousal support in the event of a divorce
- Creating a will or trust to execute the provisions of the prenuptial agreement
- Life insurance policy benefits and ownership rights
- Other matters, as allowed by Virginia state law
Some of the most common reasons why couples choose to create prenuptial agreements include:
- The spouses are middle-aged or elderly, and each has considerable assets going into the marriage, which they prefer to keep separate
- The couple wishes to define which items of property are separate and which are marital (jointly-owned) property
- One of the two spouses wants to limit the amount of alimony they must pay in the event of a divorce or remove the potential for spousal support altogether
- One of the two individuals in the marriage has amassed considerable wealth through business ventures or investments and desires to keep those assets separate
While it can be uncomfortable to discuss the possibility of divorce before getting married, it’s important to do so, considering that half of all marriages in the United States don’t last forever. Creating a prenuptial agreement can even create trust and a sense of security between you and your spouse.
Virginia law also permits couples to enter into postnuptial agreements. These agreements are not executed until after the couple has been married. A postnuptial agreement can address many of the same issues as prenuptial agreement, including property division, inheritance rights, business ventures, spousal support, and gifted property.
There are numerous reasons why a couple may wish to establish a postnuptial agreement after getting married. For example, if one of the spouses inherits an estate during the marriage, they may want the estate to remain on their side of the family after a divorce or following their death.
While inherited property is considered separate property in Virginia, even if it is inherited by a married individual, it can become marital property if the beneficiary deposits some of the inheritance in a shared account or otherwise combines it with marital property. Through a postnuptial agreement, the person who receives the inheritance could ensure that their inherited estate remains separate property at the time of divorce.
Some couples also create postnuptial agreements for other personal reasons. For instance, if one party cheats on the other, then the other party might wish to protect their rights after the instance of adultery. Or, if one spouse develops a gambling problem, the other spouse may wish to protect assets that are their separate property through a postnuptial agreement as well.
Whatever your reasons for establishing a postnuptial agreement, you will most likely need an attorney’s help to draft the document and ensure it is in compliance with Virginia state law.
Elements of an Enforceable Agreement
To be enforceable, premarital agreements must meet certain conditions. According to Virginia Code Section 20-151, a premarital agreement may not be enforceable if:
- The agreement was not created on a voluntary basis
- The agreement was unfair to one of the parties, and that party wasn’t made aware of the property and financial responsibilities of the other party before the agreement was executed
- The agreement was unfair to one of the parties, and that party didn’t waive their right to be notified of the other party’s financial and property-related obligations
Also, if the court finds that a couple’s marriage is void, then the premarital agreement can only be enforced to the extent required to prevent an unjust outcome.
Postnuptial agreements can also be enforced as a legal contract in Virginia. From the moment the document is signed by the two spouses, both parties will be legally bound by it. Like prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements must be in writing to be enforceable by a court. A seasoned marital law attorney can assess the validity of your agreement and help you enforce it if necessary.
Contact a Virginia Beach Marital Law Attorney Today
If you need help with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the Virginia Beach marital law attorney at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can help. We have the resources to offer you competent legal advice, draft a valid legal document on your behalf, and ensure that your personal goals are met. Call us at (757) 962-5588 for a free case evaluation today.