When you are planning to marry, you are likely not considering what could happen in the future if your marriage ends. Most couples do not marry with the assumption the marriage will end someday, but this is the reality for many Virginia couples. It is beneficial for any individual considering marriage to think about ways they can shield their interests in case the marriage ends in the future. One way to do this is through the terms of a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that outlines how marital property should be divided in the event of a divorce. By having a prenup, you are not saying that you assume the marriage will end. You are simply taking steps that will allow you to secure your property rights and ensure that you do not have an unfair portion of marital debt if you and your spouse end your marriage in the future.
What should be in your agreement?
It is not easy to consider the possibility of divorce before you even marry. It may seem like an impractical or unromantic conversation to have, but in reality, it can be a healthy way for a couple to discuss their financial goals and concerns before they walk down the aisle. Like any legal contract, this can be custom-tailored to suit your individual needs. Terms that should be in your agreement include:
- Specific guidelines regarding what property is marital property and which assets are separate
- Protections against one spouse leaving the marriage with an unfair portion of debt accumulated during the marriage
- Provisions for parents who need to care for children from a previous marriage
- Descriptions of the financial responsibilities of each spouse over the course of the marriage
- Protections that ensure carrying out an individual’s estate plans as directed
You can include terms that are important to your individual situation, such as dealing with a family-owned business in the event of a divorce. Each prenup should be specific to the objectives of the couple.
A prenup may be invalid if it includes terms that are illegal, unenforceable, waive spousal support or encourage divorce. Terms that dictate child support and child custody are also not allowed in your prenuptial agreement. If you are considering this type of legal contract, you may benefit from seeking a legal opinion regarding your options and the terms that should be in your prenup.