There are a lot of stereotypes to having a prenuptial agreement. People usually feel that signing a prenup is preparing for a divorce, when you’re trying to prepare to be with your partner forever. Some feel that their future spouse may not trust them if they ask them to sign a prenup. Others feel as if it is a “jinx” on the marriage. All of this is understandable but simply put, having a prenuptial agreement is smart and protects both spouses.
People are waiting longer than ever to get married. Being older means you’ve had quite some time to establish your career, invest your savings and accumulate assets. These are important things to protect in a marriage. While your attorney can explain what is considered separate v. marital property in your marriage, a prenup can ensure that the assets you owned prior to marriage remain your separate property in the event you divorce.
North Carolina law regarding property distribution in a divorce is that all marital property shall be divided equally between spouses, regardless of bad behavior in the marriage. So, if you owned a business prior to marriage, any appreciation in the value of the business can be subjected to division in a divorce. If you have investments and retirement accounts that increase in value during your marriage, those will also be divided upon divorce. You might own a home prior to marriage and then your spouse moves in and it becomes the marital home. A prenup will protect these assets so they remain your separate property.
You cannot force your future spouse to sign a prenup. For it to be valid, both parties must voluntarily agree to the terms, put it in writing and sign it before marriage. It becomes effective as soon as you are married. There also must be disclosure of assets and financial obligations. This is a good time to get a complete understanding of all your future spouse’s assets and debts and how you will plan for your future together. A prenup can’t address the custody of any unborn children and it can’t eliminate child support.
We understand that it’s not easy to prepare for your marriage to fail in the middle of the excitement surrounding planning your wedding. It’s better to get a prenup out of the way early on in your engagement, so any contentious feelings it creates can subside in time for you to celebrate your wedding. If you are engaged and would like to speak with someone to see if a prenuptial agreement is right for you, please call our office today.