Over the years, the average age of people getting married has changed.
As a result, couples today are older and more established in their career and have more assets than in the past. Sadly many marriages fail.
Although discussing and negotiating a premarital agreement may not be comfortable or romantic, it may be less awkward and stressful to do at the outset of marriage, rather than at the time you and your spouse are separating or upon death of a spouse. The smart approach to crafting a premarital agreement designed to successfully protect your interests in the event things fall apart will be our top priority when you seek the services provided by the team at our firm.
Establishing A Premarital Agreement In Virginia
Virginia's Premarital Agreement Act defines a premarital agreement as an "agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage." A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both prospective spouses. No consideration or legal value must be exchanged for a premarital agreement to be enforceable.
However, if the person against whom enforcement is sought proves that he or she did not sign the agreement voluntarily or, that the agreement was unconscionable at the time when it was signed and he or she did not receive a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property and financial obligations of the other party and did not waive, in righting, his or her right to disclosure of the property and financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided, the premarital agreement will not be enforceable.
Premarital agreements may address the following issues:
- The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them;
- The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
- The disposition of property upon separation, divorce, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
- Spousal support;
- The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
- The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
- The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement;
- and Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
Provided that required formalities are met, premarital agreements document the parties' intentions concerning classification and disposition of property and incomes currently in existence and those that will accumulate during the course of the marriage. A premarital agreement resolves the matters addressed in the agreement in advance of a decision to separate or divorce or upon death of a spouse. We recommend a premarital agreement be signed as far in advance of a wedding as possible. Oftentimes the stress related to disposition of property and incomes combined with separation, divorce and/or death can be largely alleviated by discussing and resolving these matters before marriage, when the relationship is stable and secure.
At Smith Law Firm, PLC we educate our clients concerning matters that may be addressed in a premarital agreement and different options for resolving each matter. Together, we help our clients navigate the process of developing a premarital agreement that best protects the client's interests. Please do not hesitate contacting our Family Law attorneys if you have any questions regarding premarital agreements.