Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How should I prepare if I intend to file for divorce in the near future?”
Your wedding is approaching and you are focusing on the many arrangements that you must make for your special day. One thing you might not be thinking about is a prenuptial agreement. While you may feel that a prenup is an admission that the marriage could end, it is actually more like an insurance policy that can protect both parties in case the union results in divorce. Nobody likes to think about divorce, especially at the start of your marriage, but it is something that could happen down the road and it is good to be prepared.
A prenuptial agreement, known as a premarital agreement or simply as a prenup, is a contract between two people made before marriage. Prenuptial agreements in North Carolina follow the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). The UPAA states that the agreement must be in writing and must be signed by both parties. Unlike some other types of contracts, a prenup does not require consideration. The prenup is made before marriage but becomes effective upon marriage. A prenup may include some specific details and requirements that are specific to your individual needs.
Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenup offers several important benefits to both parties. First and foremost, it is a way to define and identify assets of both people. The prenup has traditionally been a useful tool to protect your individual assets and family heirlooms. Since couples make the prenup during a time when they are getting along, the document will prevent disputes later, if the couple decides to end the union. By defining assets and debts, it can prevent parties from being obligated to debts that are not their own. The agreement can help guarantee a fair and equitable distribution of assets between parties.
What to Include in a Prenup
There are many items that you can include in a prenup agreement. Each agreement is unique and it should reflect the specific topics that are important to you and your potential spouse. Some things to include are:
- A list of premarital assets and debts
- Marital assets and debts
- Provide for children from previous relationships
- Responsibilities of each party
- Provisions for heirlooms and inheritances
- How to distribute property and assets in case of divorce
You can include any matters that are critical to you and your spouse. For instance, a prenup may have a sunset clause that states the prenup document is in effect for a specific period of time. If the marriage lasts longer than that time, the prenup could be void. A prenup should be fair to both parties. It is best to provide a financial disclosure document to the partner as part of the prenup process. The financial disclosure lists the assets and debts of each person in detail.
Do We Need a Prenup?
The decision to execute a prenup is one that only you and your partner can make. There are some situations that may make a prenup more helpful than others. For instance, couples who have previously been married or are getting married at an older age might benefit because they each have built their own assets and property. Another good reason to use a prenup is when you have children from a previous marriage and want to make sure you protect their inheritance. If you own a business, it is best to use a prenup that defines the assets and debts of the company.
A prenup can benefit anyone, even those who do not currently have a lot of money. If you are considering a prenup, it is best to seek guidance from an experienced attorney. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today for an initial consultation. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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