There are negative connotations surrounding a prenuptial agreement – that they show you don’t trust your spouse, or that they are a sign the marriage isn’t going to last. In reality, almost 50 percent of marriages end in divorce and having this contract in place can protect both parties from messy litigation. Our prenuptial agreement lawyers in Raleigh draft mutually beneficial contracts to empower our clients and are available to work with you to draft a contract to help you move forward with confidence.
The Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement
When two people get married, they aren’t just uniting their hearts, often they are uniting their property and finances. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract two people enter into prior to getting married that maps out issues of property division, spousal support, and other financial matters in the event that the marriage should end in divorce. In addition to dictating how property is divided, a prenuptial agreement lawyer can include issues related to dividing retirement funds and dividing how income is earned during a marriage.
While it’s not a romantic thought, a prenup acts as insurance in the event of a divorce, similar to how car insurance is there, just in case. A prenuptial agreement has multiple benefits for both parties, including:
- Protecting premarital assets;
- Ensuring children from a prior relationship or current relationship are cared for;
- Minimizing contention in the event of a divorce;
- Protection from a spouse’s student loans or other type of debt;
- Factoring in future income potential, such as how one spouse supports the other while starting a business or going back to college;
Understanding Premarital and Marital Property
North Carolina state law outlines that any property obtained prior to marriage belongs to the individual and is not subject to equitable distribution of property in a divorce settlement. However, there are gray areas in the law and a prenuptial agreement attorney can help navigate those spaces. For example, if one person owns a home and when the couple marries, they both live in the home, if the mortgage is paid or renovations are done with funds earned during the marriage, the equity accumulated could make the house a type of marital, joint property.
Similar issues related to investing funds in retirement, stock accounts, and any increase in businesses that you may have owned prior to the marriage can all affect how premarital property shifts into marital property. A prenuptial agreement lawyer can work with you to dive into those legal gray areas and create solutions.
Who Should Consider a Prenup?
While not every couple needs a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to realize that they aren’t just for people with high net worth. Some questions to ask yourself and your future spouse when deciding whether you need a prenup:
- Do you have children from a prior relationship?
- Do you have property that you are bringing into the marriage; for example, real estate, investment/stock accounts or a retirement accounts (401(k), 403(b) or IRA?
- Do you own a business?
- Are you engaging in an activity such as writing a book or developing a product to be patented that you will continue to be working on during the marriage?
- Will you be supporting your fiancé/fiancée while he or she goes to school or is beginning a new business with funds you had prior to the marriage?
- Is there a concern about the potential risk of spousal support obligations in the event of a divorce?
If you or your spouse answered “yes” to any of the above, you should speak with an attorney about drafting a prenuptial contract.
What Are Prenuptial Agreement Best Practices?
If you and your partner want to have a prenup drawn up, we recommend these best practices:
Address the Issue As Soon as Possible
Instead of dropping a ball a few days before the wedding when stress and anxiety are running high, address working with a prenup lawyer at least 90 days before the wedding. It is very important that no one feel forced to sign the agreement, as this may be a basis to void the agreement later. The other party must have sufficient time to participate in the drafting and negotiation process as well as allow them time to consult with a family law attorney in Raleigh if they wish to do so.
Fully Disclose All Assets and Debits
Full disclosure of your finances and property is necessary to ensure the prenuptial agreement is legally binding. Otherwise, if information or details were left out, the contract can be considered null.
Consider a Prenup as Divorce Insurance
If your partner is skeptical about getting a prenup, frame it as a “just in case” document, like having car insurance. You don’t want to use it, there’s no reason to think you’ll need to, but it’s there if it’s needed.
3. A prenuptial agreement as “divorce insurance.” Prenups do more than address the concerns that arise when a couple divorces. When trying to convince a skeptical person to sign a prenup, frame it as a “just in case” document. You don’t plan on using it, and you don’t want to use it, but you will be glad you have it if you ever need it.
Contact Our Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers in Raleigh
Prenups are complex, comprehensive documents, and it’s important to work with an experienced attorney to draft one. If you or your future spouse are ready to schedule a discussion, call (919) 301-8843 or complete the form below.