A premarital agreement (more commonly known as a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup”) is a contract that two parties enter into before they marry. Though many think prenups take the “romance” out of married life, they actually help organize a couple’s affairs and protects both people, whether they get divorced or one of them dies.
Premarital agreements lay out what the couple will do with various assets and rights in the event of a divorce or death of a spouse. These contracts must be in writing and executed before the marriage and they must be fair and reasonable based on full disclosure of all assets and liabilities by both parties. Additionally, both parties cannot be represented fairly by one lawyer, so each spouse must have separate attorneys prepare and review the documents before signing.
North Carolina law does limit what a prenup can and cannot do, and all or part of the contract may be found void if it includes prohibited material. Be sure to let your experienced family law attorney help you in drafting a legal prenup.
A North Carolina Premarital Agreement Can:
- Distinguish between marital or divisible property and separate property
- Protect one spouse from the debts of the other
- Provide for any children either spouse has from previous relationships
- Keep family heirlooms, family business interests and other property in the birth family
- Supplement and protect your estate plan
- Make it easier to distribute property equitably if the marriage ends in divorce
- Specify which spouse is responsible for which financial items during the marriage, for example, decide who is responsible for preparing the tax returns
A North Carolina Premarital Agreement Cannot:
- Require either spouse to do something prohibited by law
- Pre-determine issues of child custody or child support
- Waive either spouse’s right to alimony in the event of a divorce
- Provide a financial or another incentive for divorce
- Specify which spouse is responsible for non-financial personal or household matters, for example, pre-determine who is responsible for what chores or decide how children will be raised
What Is Included In A Premarital Agreement?
- How certain property (cars, houses, investments, and other property that’s not easily liquid) will be divided in the event of a divorce
- Who is responsible for specific debts, rather than having each spouse be responsible for half of each debt
- Which state law governs, since different states have different premarital agreement laws
- How disputes will be handled should one spouse decide not to “play by the rules” set in the prenup
- Whether or not alimony or spousal support (not child support) should be waived (if one spouse has a considerably higher income, the prenup can be used to construct alimony payments if the marriage fails)
A premarital agreement is a way to protect yourself before you enter into the lifelong commitment of marriage. It is important to have an attorney draft and execute a premarital agreement for you so that the agreement will be enforceable and it will be written to best protect whatever you want to include in it. If you are considering a premarital agreement, contact our family law attorneys today at 704-512-0606 to set up a consultation.