You just asked your long-term boyfriend/girlfriend/partner to marry you, and the future seems brighter than it is has ever been. The last thing you likely want to think about is the possibility of someday getting a divorce. This is one reason why so many people have an immediate and visceral aversion to the idea of a prenuptial agreement.
The documents also have an image problem. They were once primarily used by the rich and famous – especially in cases where one spouse had a lot of assets and was marrying someone with relatively few. But the truth is that prenuptial agreements can be helpful for most couples getting married these days. And far from showing that couple is expecting to get divorced, they can actually demonstrate that a couple is aware of what they are committing to.
Dispelling the Myths
Claiming that someone seeking a prenuptial agreement is planning to get divorced is like saying that someone who buys car insurance is planning to get into a car accident. A prenuptial agreement is simply an acknowledgement that if divorce ever becomes necessary, you and your spouse would like to have control over the terms and to make it as efficient and predictable as possible.
How They Work
Think of it this way: Simply by getting married, you already have a prenuptial agreement of sorts – the divorce laws of North Carolina. By making your own agreement, you are simply replacing a standard set of rules for customized ones.
That being said, North Carolina laws also govern what can and cannot be included in prenuptial agreements, but these are minimal enough to still allow you to create a unique agreement. Most of the time, prenups primarily focus on division of property (including designating certain assets as belonging only to one spouse), personal obligations spouses make to one another, and which divorce-related benefits may be allowed or prohibited (such as spousal support).
Child-related benefits (like child support) cannot be precluded in a North Carolina prenup (or in prenups for nearly any other state).
Process Is Very Important
Prenuptial agreements are only valuable if they can be enforced. And to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is deemed legitimate, the following elements generally need to be present:
- Negotiated well ahead of the wedding to avoid any appearance of coercion or undue influence
- Provisions that are fair to both parties
- Time and opportunity for both parties to carefully consider the contract and discuss it with their own attorneys before signing
If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement or want to get started drafting one, please contact an experienced family law attorney today.