Fairfax prenuptial agreement attorneys

Nobody gets married hoping for divorce, but it pays to be prepared just in case things don’t work out. That’s why many couples in Fairfax choose to sign a prenuptial agreement before they tie the knot.

prenuptial agreements

The family law attorneys at Select Law Partners PLLC are committed to helping couples create personalized and comprehensive prenuptial agreements that protect their interests now and in the future. Both parties deserve to have their rights and wishes respected, and we strive to make that happen.

To schedule your consultation, call (855) 541-4867 today.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement — also known as a premarital agreement or simply a “prenup” — is a legal document that sets out each partner’s rights and responsibilities upon the couple’s divorce. The agreement is drafted and signed before the marriage and can cover areas such as property division, spousal support, and debt.

Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning all property acquired during the marriage — including homes, vehicles, bank accounts, business interests, and more — must be divided equitably, which is not the same as equally, between the parties upon divorce.

A prenuptial agreement can be used to override this default rule by establishing how certain assets, property, and debts will be divided in the event of divorce. This can reduce conflict and save both parties money during the divorce process.

While planning for the possibility of divorce before you even get married may seem unromantic, prenuptial agreements can actually strengthen marriages. They give couples the opportunity to have honest conversations about their finances and can help promote fiscal responsibility. Plus, when both partners are secure in knowing their rights and possessions will be protected, it can make for a healthier marriage.

Virginia laws regarding prenuptial agreements

The Virginia Premarital Act was adopted in 1985 and outlines what makes a prenuptial agreement legally binding and enforceable in the state.

To be valid in Virginia, a prenuptial agreement must be:

  • In writing
  • Created voluntarily (i.e., without threats or fraud)
  • Signed by both parties

Both parties must be provided a “fair and reasonable disclosure” of the other party’s financial obligations and property, and neither party may waive this right. Unlike most other contracts, which go into effect when signed, prenuptial agreements are only effective when the couple gets married.

Under the Virginia Premarital Act, the content of a prenuptial agreement may include any of the following:

  • The rights and obligations of both parties regarding shared and separate property
  • The division of property in the event of divorce, separation, death, or other events
  • Spousal support arrangements
  • Estate planning arrangements in relation to the prenuptial agreement
  • Either party’s rights to the death benefit from a life insurance policy
  • Any other matter that doesn’t violate public policy or state law

Virginia law also allows for the revocation or modification of a prenuptial agreement after marriage. To make changes to an existing prenup, both parties must draft and sign a new written agreement.

Married couples in Virginia can also create postnuptial agreements which are similar to a prenuptial agreement, but it’s created after they are married and are effective immediately upon execution.

Reasons why couples decide to get a prenuptial agreement

It’s a common misconception that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy couples. In reality, they can be hugely beneficial for anyone who’s getting married. However, there are a few types of situations that more commonly involve prenups.

prenuptial agreement document

The circumstances discussed below are just a few of the many reasons why couples may decide to get a prenuptial agreement. You could still benefit from one if you don’t fall under any of these categories. 

Simply wanting to avoid the hassle of a messy separation or make sure that each party is treated fairly in a hypothetical divorce can motivate many couples to create a prenup.

1. One or both parties have significant assets

Many couples — particularly those who are older — enter marriage with significant assets that they want to protect in a hypothetical divorce. A prenuptial agreement can be used to ensure that each party retains control of their own possessions and property. By specifying which assets are separate property, couples can avoid drawn-out negotiations that often occur when trying to divide property.

2. Business ownership

Even if only one spouse is listed as the owner of a business, the other spouse may be entitled to some of its profits in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can protect the business from being divided, ensuring that only the listed owner keeps it in their possession. It can also specify how the business will be divided if both spouses are involved with it.

3. Separate debts

In Virginia, courts have the power to award debts to either spouse in a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can limit this liability and protect each party from being saddled with their partner’s debts. It’s not unusual for one partner to enter marriage with more debt than the other, and a prenup can be used to ensure that each person remains responsible for their own finances.

4. Age gaps

Couples with a large age gap between partners may want to sign a prenuptial agreement to protect the older partner’s estate, rights to retirement benefits, and other financial interests. It can also be used to provide for the younger spouse in the event of death or divorce since they likely entered the marriage with fewer resources.

5. Second marriages

Those entering into a second marriage often wish to protect their children from a previous relationship by including provisions for them in the prenuptial agreement. This can include specifying how much of the estate will go to them in the event of death or divorce. A prenup can also provide peace of mind to those who suffered a negative financial experience in a previous divorce.

6. Stay-at-home parent arrangement

If one partner is the primary breadwinner and the other stays at home to care for the children, a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect the stay-at-home spouse’s financial interests in case of a divorce. It can specify how much spousal support will be paid and for how long. It can also be used to determine how much of the breadwinner’s assets will go to the stay-at-home spouse in the divorce process.

Steps to take to create a prenuptial agreement

Creating a prenuptial agreement is a fairly straightforward process. Technically, you and your partner can draft an agreement yourself, but it’s highly recommended that you consult an experienced Fairfax family law attorney to ensure that your best interests are represented and that your agreement is legally enforceable. Both parties should also have their attorneys review the agreement to ensure that it’s fair.

1. Compile a list of all assets and debts

The first step is to compile a list of all assets and debts that each partner has going into the marriage. This will include any property, businesses, investments, or debts that either of you owns. It’s important to be as detailed and accurate as possible to avoid confusion or disagreements down the line.

2. Draft the agreement

You and your partner will then work together with your respective attorneys to draft the agreement. This will involve discussing how you want to divide any assets or debts acquired during the marriage and any arrangements you want to make for spousal support in the event of a divorce.

3. Review and sign the agreement

Once the agreement is finished, both of you should carefully review it and make sure that all of the details are accurate. You’ll both then sign the agreement. After that, you’ll have a legally binding prenuptial agreement in place to protect the rights and financial interests of both you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Contact our office today to learn more about premarital agreements

The unexpected can happen, and it’s important to be prepared. Proactive couples who are willing to invest in their future together can benefit from prenuptial agreements and the peace of mind they provide.

If you’re interested in learning more about prenuptial agreements and how they can benefit your relationship, don’t hesitate to contact Select Law Partners PLLC. We understand that each couple’s situation is unique and will take the time to understand your individual needs to craft a customized prenuptial agreement that helps you achieve your goals. 

Call us today at (855) 541-4867 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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