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Prenuptial Agreements

There are several types of nuptial agreements, the best known of which is the prenuptial agreement or “prenup”. Prenuptial Agreements are legal contracts signed by both parties prior to getting married and that become binding upon the parties’ marriage. Prenups state how certain issues will be handled should they ever arise. The husband, for example, may agree to pay the wife four thousand dollars ($4,000) per month in alimony should they decide to divorce. If, ten years later, the parties separate and plan to divorce, the issue of spousal support has been resolved, as the husband has already agreed to pay it and the wife has agreed to the amount she will receive.

Why Get a Prenup?

Oftentimes these agreements are viewed negatively, or “as expecting the marriage to fail”, but for many couples prenups and nuptial agreements eliminate present or future stress and conflict by addressing the issues in advance. To speak with an experienced family law attorney about getting a prenup or other type of nuptial agreement, or call us at (919) 821-1860.

Separation Agreements

Separation agreements are essentially prenups signed after a couple has been married. For most of American history up to the 1970s, these agreements were considered legally invalid because they contradicted a legal concept known as marital unity. A husband and wife could not, because of marital unity, enter into any type of contract with one another because when a man and woman are married, according to the legal thought of the time, they became one, and a person cannot enter into a contract with himself. As the courts began to reject this concept, nuptial agreements appeared.

Many couples have used the separation agreement as a form of marital counseling. If, for example, the majority of their marriage problems were due to disagreements over money, a negotiated, legally-binding contract may provide a framework for understanding and eliminate the issues the couple was fighting about. Separation agreements can be prepared and executed anytime after two parties are married; they become valid once both parties have signed the agreement before a Notary Public. It is always recommended that prior to signing such an agreement, both parties speak with his or her own prenup agreement attorney to ensure they both fully understand the terms of the Agreement they are about to sign.

The Advantages of Prenups

So what are the ‘pro’s’ of having a prenup agreement prepared?

  • Prenup agreements protect each party’s separate property.
  • Because a prenup agreement outlines how issues would be handled in the future should they arise, prenup agreements reduce conflicts and save money in attorney fees in the event of a divorce.
  • Many argue prenup agreements actually make a relationship stronger by forcing communication about financial issues.