Charlotte Divorce Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “When do you get alimony?”
Family law experts have long said that not enough people consider the potential value of a prenuptial agreement. Too often what family law attorneys hear is that prenuptial agreements are only for rich people or those on second and third marriages that want to ensure children from their first marriage are being looked after. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as prenups can be useful in almost any circumstance. Unfortunately, this same prenuptial skepticism has carried over to many same-sex couples who, for the first time, are now able to marry legally nationwide. The reality is that though prenuptial agreements are beneficial to same-sex couples for all the same reasons as they are to opposite-sex couples, there are other reasons why same-sex couples may benefit even more. To find out more about the benefits of prenuptial agreements for same-sex couples, keep reading.
Now that same-sex marriage is legal here in North Carolina, couples will be forced to consider the same things that opposite-sex couples have long wrestled with, including whether or not to draft and sign prenuptial agreements. Quickly, let’s discuss some of the advantages to a prenuptial agreement. Prenups can be very useful in making divorces simpler. The reason is that much of the fighting in a divorce concerns the division of assets. By deciding these matters in advance, there becomes much less to fight about during the divorce itself, saving both time and money.
Prenups are also useful in that they can clarify the ownership of specific items of property. For example, if you enter your marriage with a treasured family heirloom, artwork or jewelry, for instance, you can insert language in the prenup explaining that the item is separate property and, should a divorce occur, will remain with one spouse or the other. Again, it’s a way to tackle issues in advance when tempers are cool and the parties are behaving rationally.
So why might prenups be even more beneficial for same-sex couples? One reason concerns the awarding of alimony and other spousal maintenance. There’s been a big push nationwide in the past several years to curtail the awarding of long-term spousal maintenance, with legislatures and courts moving to limit such payments to only long-term marriages.
For same-sex couples, this could prove problematic. If, for example, a couple was together for years, potentially even decades, as committed partners, but unable to marry due to legal restrictions, it’s possible that these years could be ignored by a family court when making decisions involving spousal support. For instance, if a couple were together 20 years, with one spouse quitting work to stay home with the kids or manage the house, then marriage was legalized and a divorce occurred only a year a two later, it’s possible that a judge could view the relationship as only lasting a year or two.
This would seriously shortchange the spouse who had stayed home all those years, meaning he or she could be left with no spousal maintenance and no legal recourse. One way to address this is to tackle the issue in a prenuptial agreement, using the document to specifically declare the length of the relationship and preemptively address issues such as support. This avoids the risk associated with leaving such an issue up to a family court, allowing you to take control of your future rather than leaving it to chance.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A certified Family-Law Specialist, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state and administrative courts in North Carolina, before the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, and before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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