Prenuptial Agreements: What Should be Included
By: John Whitbeck
What Should You Include in a Virginia Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, often referred to as a “prenup,” has been the subject of countless heated debates within couples looking to get married. While prenuptial agreements have typically been viewed with skepticism and negativity by the recipient partner, the premise behind these legal agreements is not to assume you are getting divorced before you even walk down the aisle. If you are looking to have a Virginia prenuptial agreement drafted or need one reviewed, it’s important to speak with a knowledgeable Virginia family law attorney before signing or presenting the agreement to your partner. It’s important that a prenuptial agreement be comprehensive and legally binding if there is a court dispute. These agreements are very individualized and can contain a variety of different provisions and terms. Here’s a look at some of the most important items to address in a Virginia prenuptial agreement.
Provision for Child from a Previous Marriage or Relationship
With people remarrying multiple times, it’s becoming more common to see couples who have children from previous marriages or other relationships. Many people don’t realize that a prenuptial agreement can help take financial care of children. By listing children in a prenuptial agreement, you can ensure they will inherit some or all of your assets.
Define Separate and Marital Property
You can include a provision on how your property should be divided in the event of divorce or death. Without this, the court will divide assets based on Virginia laws. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means the court will look to divide assets and debts in a fair and equitable manner.
Protection Against Spouse’s Debts
Some people opt to get a prenuptial agreement to help protect each other from existing debts when entering the marriage. If your marriage does not work out, you don’t want to be saddled with bills from your ex’s debts. This can be an essential aspect of a prenuptial agreement if a creditor can pursue marital property for a debt that you had nothing to do with.
Define Responsibilities in the Marriage
A prenuptial agreement is not just about what happens when the marriage breaks down or one spouse dies. These agreements can also set forth how specific tasks will be handled during the course of the marriage. This can include responsibilities like how joint bank accounts will be managed, who handles paying what bills and expenses, what contributions each spouse will make to savings, etc. Deciding what to include in a prenuptial agreement can be overwhelming. Hiring a knowledgeable family law attorney can help guide you through this process.
Again, people think the purpose of a prenuptial agreement is about making sure your ex gets nothing in the event of a divorce. However, you can set forth an alimony award right in your agreement in the unfortunate event you do get a divorce.
Note: Before drafting a prenuptial agreement, both parties have to be completely upfront and disclose their full financial situation; otherwise, the court may later decide to throw it out since one side was not truthful.
Related: Family Law
John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.