North Carolina Divorce Attorney Explains Prenuptial Agreements

For some people, a prenuptial agreement might seem unromantic or even insulting. However, a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can provide a number of benefits, including peace of mind for both parties.

Just because a couple enters into a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean they plan to eventually divorce.

Entering into a prenuptial agreement is similar to purchasing car insurance or a homeowner’s insurance policy. You don’t buy insurance because you plan on getting into a car accident or experiencing a flood in your home.

However, if something like a flood does happen, you can rest easy knowing that you have insurance to cover any damage. A prenuptial agreement offers similar reassurance. You may never end up using it, but it’s reassuring to know the agreement is in place just in case the unexpected happens. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement to protect you or your future spouse, you should take the time to discuss your options with an experienced prenuptial agreement lawyer in North Carolina. The attorneys at Vitale Family Law in Raleigh, North Carolina have experience handling prenuptial agreements and will walk you through every step of the process.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract. The content of a prenuptial agreement can differ depending on the couple’s needs and wishes, but common elements of a prenuptial agreement include provisions that address the division of property, how debts will be divided, and how much, if any, spousal support one spouse will pay to the other.

While some people assume that prenuptial agreements are only appropriate for people who have extensive wealth, this is inaccurate. Just about everyone has some kind of asset.  

In fact, the number of people entering into a prenuptial agreement has increased fivefold over the past 20 years, according to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

In North Carolina, a prenuptial agreement must be put in writing and signed by both parties before the marriage takes place. The agreement, if properly executed, is binding and enforceable.

Courts in North Carolina won’t enforce a prenuptial agreement if they determine that the process of entry into the agreement was unconscionable and the terms of the prenuptial agreement are also unconscionable.

Does a Prenuptial Agreement Make Sense for You?

There are several reasons why a prenuptial agreement may be a good idea for you and your intended spouse.

Talking About Your Finances in Advance

For many couples, money matters are something of a taboo subject—or maybe just one they put off talking about until sometime down the road. The problem is that “down the road” keeps getting pushed farther away.

By discussing your finances now, before you walk down the aisle, you can make sure you and your future spouse are on the same page when it comes to how you would like to handle your money.

One Partner Earns More

If one partner is a high earner, it might make sense to enter into a prenuptial agreement. This situation is often the case when one person owns a business prior to the marriage or is getting older and thinking about retirement.

If you’ve worked hard to build a business, you understandably want to protect it, and a  prenuptial agreement can help you safeguard your hard work.

Likewise, if one partner plans to work while the other person advances their education, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that the spouse who supported the other throughout their education will receive compensation for making a sacrifice.

For example, if one spouse intends to work while the other attends medical school and a medical residency, the prenuptial agreement may state that the spouse who worked will receive a certain amount of spousal support if the parties divorce after the “student” becomes a practicing doctor.

In the reverse, if a doctor who is getting married intends to retire, alimony can be limited or waived.

You Have Pets Or Other Animals

It may sound a bit silly to some people, but prenuptial agreements can also address what happens to pets in the event of a divorce.

Animal lovers know pets can become like a member of the family, which is why it makes sense for some couples to include provisions about their pets in their prenuptial agreement.

In addition to the familia attachment to pets, there can be a financial aspect as well. If one person in the relationship has an animal that is valuable due to its pedigree or ability to earn money as a breeder, that financial interest should be protected in a prenuptial agreement. Further, an agreement can address vet and maintenance bills related to the animal.

You Have High Amounts of Debt

Contrary to what some people believe, prenuptial agreements aren’t just about protecting wealth. In fact, some couples enter into a prenuptial agreement because one or both partners have a high amount of debt.

One of the most common examples of this is seen among millennials, who often have large amounts of student debt. By addressing who will be responsible for the debt in the event of a divorce, couples can avoid prolonged legal battles over which spouse is obligated to take on various debts.

Prolonged legal disputes can be time-consuming and costly. If a couple has a high burden of debt, it makes good financial sense to create a prenuptial agreement that addresses the division of debt.

You Have Family Property

A prenuptial agreement might also make sense if one future spouse has a large inheritance or some other asset from their family. If you want to keep this property or financial asset separate, it’s a good idea to spell out the ownership specifics in your prenuptial agreement.

North Carolina Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

If you would like to discuss creating a prenuptial agreement that protects you and your future spouse, it’s important to contact an experienced North Carolina prenuptial agreement lawyer to review your options. The Raleigh, NC divorce attorneys at Vitale Family Law in North Carolina are experienced in handling prenuptial agreements and will be able to guide you through the process.  Get started today by calling 919-841-5680