If you have been divorced and plan to remarry, it is natural to want to proceed with caution. This statement holds special weight if you have been previously burned by the property division or alimony elements of a divorce. Fortunately, there are smart steps that you can take to protect yourself from repeating that history, which can give you the confidence to take the fantastic leap of getting married again.
North Carolina is an Equitable Distribution State
North Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that a court will add the total market value of a couple’s marital property and distribute it between the spouses in accordance with specific statutory factors. Significantly, separate property—which is generally property that a spouse owns prior to the marriage—is not subject to this distribution.
A Prenuptial Agreement Can Protect Your Property
However, equitable distribution is not a desirable option for everyone, and it is wise to consider a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married again. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that can specify exactly what will happen with property if the couple divorces. This means that parties can agree that property that would typically be treated as marital property can instead remain a spouse’s separate property. There are numerous reasons why a person should weigh a prenuptial agreement prior to a second marriage:
- With a second marriage, it is all right to take a more pragmatic approach than your first marriage. If you had an acrimonious and expensive divorce, a prenuptial agreement can take the weight of financial risk off the shoulders of both partners so they can truly focus on the relationship.
- Despite the general rule that property that is brought into a marriage is classified as separate property, there are circumstances in which separate property can be converted into marital property over the course of a marriage. A prenuptial agreement can protect your property from this accidentally occurring.
- If your marriage occurs when you are older, a prenuptial agreement can be a tool to protect your existing estate plans. For example, if you have children from prior marriages, you likely want to ensure that they are financially protected. A prenuptial agreement, combined with trust accounts or other estate planning tools can make sure your wishes are preserved and carried out.
- A prenuptial agreement creates predictability when it comes to your property. The last thing you want is for an unexpected divorce to completely derail all of your financial plans, your retirement, or your estate plans. This agreement is legally enforceable, and also dramatically reduces the likelihood of expensive and drawn out equitable distribution and alimony proceedings should you divorce.
Contact New Direction Family Law
Prenuptial agreements are an effective tool to reduce the financial risks that come with marriage. At New Direction Family Law, we represent both men and women who are interested in seeking legal counsel regarding prenuptial agreements. You will appreciate our thorough, meticulous approach to creating an enforceable agreement that suits your needs. Call us today for assistance. We serve clients throughout Wake, Johnston, Durham and surrounding counties. Contact our office at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us online through our website.
Carly G. Baker
New Direction Family Law