A premarital agreement is an agreement entered into between two parties who are contemplating marriage. The agreement becomes effective upon the date of the parties’ marriage. A premarital agreement is commonly referred to as a prenuptial agreement, but may also be referred to as an antenuptial agreement. A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties prior to the marriage. A premarital agreement may be changed or revoked only by written agreement properly executed between the parties.
A marriage will end either by death or divorce. A premarital agreement allows prospective spouses to settle issues related to property rights, personal rights, and alimony prior to marriage. The matters to which parties to a premarital agreement may contract to are very broad, and may cover roles and responsibilities which are anticipated during the marriage, as well as rights and entitlements upon death or divorce. The subject matters typically addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:
- division of assets and debts in the event of a future separation or divorce;
- determination of entitlement to or waiver of postseparation support and/or alimony in the event of future separation and divorce;
- ability of a spouse to manage, buy, sell, and mortgage property without the signature of the other spouse;
- provisions for the passing of property upon the death of either spouse; and
- provisions for life insurance in the event of the death of either spouse.
A premarital agreement may also be limited to one or two issues, depending on the needs of the parties.
In the United States today, people get married for the first time later in life, and remarriage is a common occurrence. In both situations, people are more likely to have property, and children from prior relationships, that they bring with them into a marriage.
Premarital agreements may be recommended for anyone who has accumulated property and wealth before marriage; who has a child or children from a previous relationship that they want to ensure receives certain assets from their estate; who has established a successful business prior to marriage; who expects to receive family wealth or inheritance; or whose prospective spouse has significantly (less or more) wealth or income.
Premarital agreements are not instruments designed exclusively to protect the income, wealth, and inheritance of one spouse. They can be structured to ensure that both prospective spouses feel that their rights and interests are adequately protected. Premarital agreements may be crafted to preserve the property and income of both spouses, or provide certain protections and financial security to a less wealthy spouse.
The family law attorneys at Tharrington Smith provide legal services with regard to all aspects of premarital agreements, including:
- negotiation of the terms of a premarital agreement;
- preparation of a premarital agreement;
- reviewing and offering advice on a premarital agreement prepared by someone else;
- challenging the validity of a premarital agreement in arbitration or in court; and
- defending the validity of a premarital agreement in arbitration or in court.
If you are anticipating marriage, the family law attorneys at Tharrington Smith can offer you sound advice and practiced guidance as to whether a premarital agreement would be beneficial to you, and the issues that should be addressed, depending on your unique circumstances. We will work with you and, if necessary, your tax advisor and estate planning attorney, to advise, negotiate, and prepare a solid premarital agreement that meets your needs and protects your interests.
If you have signed a premarital agreement that you believe is unfair or invalid, we are happy to review your situation and advise you of options that may be available.