Premarital Agreements

A premarital agreement is a contract entered into by a couple intending on getting married which lays out the specifics of what will happen with their property in the event of divorce or death. This is synonymous with a prenuptial agreement. A premarital agreement, although should be done well in advance of a marriage, only becomes effective upon the parties’ marriage. These documents can provide protection for the parties and are fairly common, particularly for second marriages and for parties who already have children. Divorce can be extremely hostile. A premarital agreement can help ensure that certain things are laid out in advance—just in case.

Premarital agreements are recognized in North Carolina and are governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, found in Chapter 52B of the North Carolina General Statutes. These agreements are done in contemplation of marriage and must be in writing and signed by both parties in order to be valid.

There are few important tips to follow to ensure that a premarital agreement would validly hold up down the road, in the event it is needed:

  1. Timing. Timing can be everything. Plan ahead and enter into the premarital agreement at least 30 days prior to the wedding. Although there is no set “30-day rule,” this is a good rule of thumb to avoid the appearance of coercion or undue influence.
  2. Disclosure. A party who has hidden or not been entirely truthful about assets at the time of entering into a premarital agreement could very likely cause it to get kicked by a court in the future.
  3. Keep your property separate—even after the marriage. This helps to identify the property that was set forth in the premarital agreement without having to track down what ever became of it.
  4. Do not attempt to, in any way, adversely affect a child’s interests in a premarital agreement. It is in violation of North Carolina’s state statute and will not stand up in court. For example, the parties cannot waive child support.

According to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act in Chapter 52B of the North Carolina General Statutes, the parties to a premarital agreement may contain and contract to the following:

  1. The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;
  2. The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
  3. The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
  4. The modification or elimination of spousal support;
  5. The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
  6. The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
  7. The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement;
  8. Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty; and
  9. The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.

At Rech Law, P.C. we can help you through this process, as well as help you understand such an agreement in greater detail. This is certainly a document to get right and get right the first time. Finding out years down the road that something was not done properly, or was in violation