When Do I Need A Prenuptial Agreement?
A popular misconception is that prenuptial or premarital agreements are only for the wealthy. The truth is anyone with personal or business assets, liabilities, property, or children from a previous marriage should consider a prenuptial agreement.
Assets Owned Prior to Marriage
“Prenups” are a good idea because they help preserve you and your spouse’s expectations and prevent surprises in the event of a divorce. This is particularly true if you own any assets or property before your marriage. Maybe you own a piece of property that you don’t want your spouse to gain an interest in, especially if you sell the property during your marriage and make a profit. Or maybe you’ve had a special savings account for years that you don’t want your spouse to access in the event of a divorce. Signing a prenuptial agreement that lists you and your spouse’s separate property and the intention that these assets remain separate will ensure that your spouse cannot claim any interest in them if you get divorced. Although most states recognize that any property owned prior to marriage is separate at divorce, tracing what you owned vs. what your spouse owned before you got married can be difficult – especially for smaller property like furniture, electronics and artwork.
Assets & Liabilities Obtained During the Marriage
In Virginia, any assets and debts accumulated during the marriage will be divided between you and your spouse during a divorce. However, you may have earned money from a business you started independently or prior to the marriage and never intended to share this wealth with your spouse. Or maybe you incurred debt during the marriage for which you don’t want your spouse to be liable. By signing a prenuptial agreement that sets forth what assets and debts are solely yours, even if they were obtained during the marriage, you can avoid having to share this property/liability with your spouse in the event the marriage dissolves.
A prenup is also a great tool to protect your inheritance. Whether a family member died leaving you wealth prior to your marriage or you received an inheritance sometime during the marriage, a premarital agreement can protect these assets and ensure both you and your family members that your spouse won’t run-off with their money in the event of a divorce.
Children from a Prior Marriage or Relationship
It is not uncommon for married couples to come to the marriage with children, especially if this is not your first marriage. Though your new spouse may be great with your kids now, who knows what will happen if you get divorced. In a well-drafted prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can specify what property and whose property will pass on to your children at divorce. However, any provision in a prenuptial agreement that specifies child custody rights and/or amount(s) of child support will not be enforced as a matter of public policy. These issues will be resolved by you and the court at your divorce.
A prenuptial agreement is a good idea for anyone who is getting married. Though it may not be particularly romantic, a well-drafted prenup can protect your assets and expectations, and save a great deal of time and money in the divorce proceedings. If you are getting married and would like to discuss a prenuptial agreement with an experienced family law attorney, the lawyers at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC are here to assist you. Call us today at (703) 370 – 5555, or visit our website.
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