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A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between a couple about to be married that is used to set out the rules that will govern their property, debts, income and expenses should the marriage eventually dissolve.
Prenuptial agreements allow both spouses to protect the separate property they bring into a marriage. Otherwise, if one of them owns an asset now and sells it after marriage, the cash may become joint marital property. In addition, a prenuptial agreement allows both spouses to protect themselves from the other’s debts – those incurred before the marriage and those incurred during the marriage. And it may allow them to determine what level of support one of them will provide to the other if they divorce or if one of them dies.
North Carolina couples may seek a prenuptial agreement for any number of reasons, but the most common are concerns about finances, supporting children, planning for the future and ensuring the wishes laid out in your estate plan can be honored.
You should consider a prenuptial agreement if any of the following applies:
Many couples do not consider getting a prenuptial agreement unless one or both parties have considerable assets or income. However, a prenuptial agreement can benefit both spouses even if assets or income are currently sparse. Because a prenuptial agreement documents the separate property of each spouse, can be tailored to fit your estate plans and is written to fit you and your spouse’s specific needs and wishes, the agreement can help resolve differences over finances and estate planning that become irreconcilable in many marriages.
In other words, a prenuptial agreement doesn’t merely protect spouses in the event of divorce – it can also help couples prevent the kind of strife that causes divorce in the first place. A prenuptial agreement also helps promote honesty by demanding transparency – if both parties do not fully disclose their financial situations, the court may find that the prenup is void.
Nevertheless, a prenuptial agreement isn’t right for everyone. State law may cover all the issues you would address in prenuptial agreement. Or the timing may not be right – addressing financial plans and issues may be better reserved for a “postnuptial” agreement entered after you are married. In either case, it is wise to speak to an experienced attorney before deciding whether to create a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement can do much to protect you, your spouse and your children’s financial interests. However, North Carolina law limits what prenuptial agreements may and may not do.
A prenuptial agreement can:
However, a prenuptial agreement cannot:
Because part or all of a prenuptial agreement may be found void if it contains prohibited material, it is important to work with an attorney who can ensure your prenuptial agreement both follows the law and is more likely to be upheld by a court.
There are certain essentials to creating a valid prenuptial agreement:
Without a prenuptial agreement, assets could end up in the hands of your spouse’s children from a previous marriage instead of your own children, or they could go to a mate who achieved nothing financially while you became a success.
Disputes involving a prenuptial agreement may arise while the agreement is being created or when one spouse attempts to enforce the agreement.
Common disputes during the agreement’s creation include:
Common disputes during the agreement’s enforcement include:
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