Should I get a prenuptial agreement?

Bringing up a prenuptial agreement (generally called a premarital agreement in Virginia) to your soon-to-be spouse might feel unromantic, but in a state with the 14th highest divorce rate in the country, it should be a consideration for many couples. A Fairfax family lawyer can help you understand your financial obligations during marriage and how a prenuptial agreement can protect your financial interests in the event of a divorce.

should I get a prenuptial agreement

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement protects each spouse’s premarital assets from becoming shared, and therefore divisible, assets in a divorce. It can also set forth terms of a divorce, making the dissolution of the marriage less contentious.

Code of Virginia § 20-150 outlines what parties may include in their prenuptial agreement, including the following upon divorce: 

  • Disposition of shared property
  • Defining the rights of each to sell, buy, or lease property
  • Making a will or trust to fulfill the terms of the prenuptial agreement
  • Establishing spousal support (alimony) amount and terms
  • Dealing with life insurance benefits

A prenuptial agreement may contain anything the couple wishes, so long as the terms aren’t illegal or contrary to public policy.

Importance of considering a prenuptial agreement

As romantic as a wedding is, marriage is a legal contract with obligations and duties each spouse owes to the other. Many couples may find it easier to negotiate fair terms of a financial settlement before they get married instead of during the emotional months after someone files for divorce.

Reasons to consider a prenuptial agreement

There are several benefits of a prenuptial agreement, including:

  • Protecting assets you acquired prior to marriage and determining which ones become marital property (like a house).
  • Clarifying financial responsibilities during the marriage. If a couple is planning for one partner to be a stay-at-home parent (and therefore postponing a career indefinitely), then the spouse that isn’t working should be compensated for the loss of earning potential they’ll have by going back into the job market years later.
  • Some couples may wish to avoid potentially paying alimony later; others may wish to make alimony conditional. For example, a premarital agreement may nullify alimony for the wayward spouse.
  • Protecting inheritance rights. If you anticipate inheriting a family home or piece of land, you may wish to have that property passed directly to your children.
  • Providing for children from previous relationships.

Factors to consider before entering into a prenuptial agreement

Before signing a prenup, consult with an experienced prenuptial agreement lawyer. The attorneys at Select Law Partners, PLLC understand the Virginia laws relating to prenups and will guide you through drafting a fair and valid agreement.

A prenup should be fair to both parties. Some agreements that are patently unfair to one spouse may be challenged in court and could be deemed invalid. It should also consider the couple’s future goals and financial plans. A prenup can cover many eventualities such as starting a business, buying a house, or purchasing investment properties.

The process of creating a prenuptial agreement

Although each couple’s situation is unique, the process for drafting a prenuptial agreement in Virginia is similar:

  • Hire a skilled prenuptial agreement lawyer
  • Disclose respective assets and liabilities
  • Negotiate the terms of the agreement
  • Finalize and sign the agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a living document and may be amended by both parties later if their financial picture or co-owned investment situations change.

Learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can benefit you before you say “I do”

Do you need help creating a prenuptial agreement? Contact us today at (855) 541-4867 to schedule a consultation with a skilled Fairfax prenuptial agreement attorney.