Before entering into marriage, couples are more likely to sign a prenup or prenuptial agreement than a few years ago. Perhaps it’s the skyrocketing number of divorces. Or, the fact that couples are marrying later and entering into the marriage with more assets. Whatever the reason, if you’re engaged you probably want to know, what is a prenup and if you need one.
What Is A Prenup?
Primarily, a premarital or prenuptial agreement is a contract executed by couples before they marry. Generally, the agreement lists all the property and debt of each person. Furthermore, the document will state the division of these assets and liabilities in the event of a divorce.
Although most people think prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy, every couple can benefit from a premarital contract.
- It can protect future assets
- Outline marital financial responsibility
- Guarantee your offspring from previous marriages collect their inheritance
- Avoid arguments in a divorce
- Protect one spouse from the debt of the other
Generally, prenuptial agreements address financial issues and can include very specific terms. Moreover, you and your spouse can change or cancel the agreement later on as long as both of you agree.
Ultimately, deciding the division of property before you marry can help you avoid many hassles later on. Should you decide to dissolve your marriage in the future, you’ve already made some tough decisions. With a premarital agreement in place, you can avoid many arguments associated with divorcing.
Reasons The Court Will Invalidate A Prenuptial Agreement
If you fail to follow the provisions of the law, you may find the court voiding your agreement. Below are some common reasons a judge may render your prenup invalid:
1. The Terms Of The Agreement Violate NC Law Or Public Policy
In North Carolina, all prenuptial agreements must follow the limitations set forth by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Any terms of the agreement that go against any statute or public policy would be void. An example of this might be an unfair waiver of spousal support. If the agreement forces one party to seek public assistance during a divorce, the court will find it unenforceable.
2. You’ve Been Coerced Into Signing One
For a premarital agreement to be effective, both parties must sign the contract freely. If you can prove your spouse exerted pressure on you to sign your prenup, a judge can void your agreement.
3. The Agreement Contains Unfair Provisions
You must write your agreement with precise language without any room for ambiguity. Vague clauses and unfair provisions that favor one party over the other may also invalidate your agreement.
4. Either Party Didn’t Disclose All Their Assets
Absent a waiver of full disclosure, deliberately hiding or undervaluing assets at the time of the execution of the agreement is fraudulent. Knowingly making a false statement to have someone sign a prenuptial makes the agreement unenforceable.
5. Address Issues Of Child Custody/Support
Child custody and support are matters of public policy and cannot be addressed in a premarital agreement. Moreover, courts always use the “best interest of the child” benchmark when deciding on financial support and custody.
What Is A Prenup – FAQs
Do you still have questions about what is a prenup? Unsure how signing one can legally affect you? Below, we’ve answered a few general questions clients frequently ask us. For specific legal advice on your circumstances, we urge you to call us at 336-203-9110 for a consultation.
Do I Need A Lawyer For A Prenuptial Agreement?
Often, couples believe online forms provide the legal protection they desire. However, these documents usually contain generalized clauses that apply to most people.
Moreover, if you don’t carefully construct your premarital agreement, you may find the court voiding it. While you may have saved yourself a few dollars by using online forms, you may fail in protecting your assets.
Hiring a qualified attorney can ensure your agreement meets your needs and follows the law. Plus, your lawyer can explain all the benefits and risks of agreeing to particular terms.
Can My Partner And I Use The Same Attorney?
No. An attorney cannot adequately advise both parties without creating a “conflict of interest”. Usually, the judge will examine these types of agreements more closely for signs of undue influence. Often, these situations lend themselves to a greater chance of coercion. For an enforceable agreement, you need to use individual attorneys from separate law firms.
What Will A Prenuptial Agreement Cost?
Generally, one of the biggest costs of a prenuptial agreement is the time your lawyer spends bargaining for fair terms. Since family law lawyers bill by the hour, you’ll pay a higher price for lengthy negotiations.
Additionally, the complexity of the document can raise your cost. Some couples want an extremely detailed agreement outlining debt, tax, and investment responsibility. Others may simply want a document protecting their assets in the case of a divorce.
Once you meet with us to assess your situation, we can discuss the cost of your agreement.
Can I Get A Prenuptial Agreement After My Wedding Date?
No, but you can execute a postnuptial agreement. The only difference between a pre and postnuptial agreement is the timing of the execution. We can draw up a post-marital agreement to address property and debt division, family heirlooms, or business interests.
If you’re still confused about what is a prenup, call Morgenstern & Associates at 336-203-9110. With over 40 years of combined experience in family law, our attorneys can help you draft the perfect agreement.