Prenuptial Agreements: Not Just for Celebrities

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Marriage is a great adventure, a commitment, and an affirmation of love. It is supposed to be a new beginning that lasts for the rest of our days. Unfortunately, as much as we want to believe that all couples will live happily ever after, as divorce attorneys we can honestly say that marriage can be a risky proposition for some couples. Marital relationships can be filled with trust issues, infidelity, financial problems, physical and emotional abuse, and substance abuse. Sometimes, these issues and behaviors seem to come out of nowhere after the wedding. This is why a prenuptial agreement may be worth considering.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between a couple that is prepared and executed prior to their marriage. It basically allows for specific agreements as to what property remains separate property upon a divorce, and also allows for a post-divorce alimony agreement. North Carolina has specific statutes that govern these agreements, and we would advise seeking the guidance of an attorney to draft this contract. Failure to meet the strict legal requirements of contracts and of North Carolina’s statutes could result in a void contract, which would be a worst-case scenario in the event of a divorce.

Why Should I Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?

  • North Carolina is an equitable division state, in which marital assets are divided in a fair manner, while separate property remains with the original owner. This makes a prenup incredibly powerful, in that it pre-determines what property remains separate if a divorce were to occur.
  • Contrary to preconceptions, prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly advantageous to women. Women are a true force in business and in the workplace and modern marriages are seeing women enter marriages with more assets and greater earning potential than their future spouses. In addition to protecting a woman’s assets, a prenuptial agreement can also protect women with large alimony payments to account for the incredible career sacrifices she may forego if she chooses to have children and stops working to raise those children.
  • For partners on similar or equal financial footing, a prenuptial agreement allows them to maintain separate finances to the extent possible. It also allows spouses to keep their debts separate from each other.
  • It can potentially build trust. The conversations leading to a prenuptial agreement can allow a couple to communicate in a way that they never have before. It forces both to fully disclose each other’s assets and debts, and also opens an honest dialogue and set expectations for their financial futures. While some of these truths may be deal-breakers, it is probably better to know them before a marriage than discover them during the marriage.
  • If this is not a spouse’s first marriage, a prenupt protects the interests of children of a prior marriage. If one spouse has children from a prior marriage or relationship, a prenupt allows that spouse to protect the children’s inheritance in the event of a divorce.

New Direction Family Law Can Help You

If you are planning to get married and are interested in discussing a prenuptial agreement, call us. You marriage and future are important to us. With twenty years of experience in family law, the attorneys at New Direction Family Law can provide you thorough, discreet legal advice about whether a prenuptial agreement is for you. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 for a consultation, or visit our website.