While many people think prenuptial agreements are only useful for the rich and famous, these pre-marriage contracts also help regular people maintain their property and possessions in case of a divorce. These agreements can also determine whether or not one partner will receive alimony, which partner will keep the marital residence, and which partner will be responsible for certain debts or bills.
Couples are not required to hire an attorney to draft a prenuptial agreement, but it is a good idea. These contracts can quickly become very complicated, especially if one or both partners own a significant amount of property or maintain investment accounts or business ventures.
By using an attorney to draft the prenuptial agreement, couples can provide for a wide variety of circumstances. The couple may want to set up an alimony plan that varies based on the length of the marriage. Alternatively, the couple may want to include a sunset clause that voids certain parts of the contract once the marriage lasts for a certain number of years.
An attorney can also ensure that a prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable. In Washington State, prenuptial agreements are usually enforced by a judge if the agreement meets the criteria for a legal contract, and if both spouses were honest about their financial state prior to the marriage. If one partner hid assets or debts, then the other partner could not have been fully advised about fairness of the contract prior to signing it. An attorney can ensure that both parties disclose all of their assets and debts, and that each person understands and agrees with the contract before signing it.
Finally, a family lawyer can help couples create an agreement that both people can live with over the course of the marriage. A judge may refuse to enforce a prenuptial agreement if the parties create terms for themselves that are too difficult to follow during the marriage. By using an attorney, the couple can create an agreement that will work for both of them over the long term.
Ideally, both partners should have their own attorney to help each of them understand their rights and obligations under the premarital contract. Having independent legal counsel will help each spouse ensure that he or she will be protected in the event of a divorce, and will make sure that neither spouse is taken advantage of by the other.
If you want to create a clear, valid, and binding prenuptial agreement, it is important to speak with an experienced Washington family law attorney. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we can help you and your soon-to-be spouse create an agreement that will provide for both of your futures, no matter what happens in your marriage. To learn more about prenuptial agreements or to schedule your appointment with our office, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today by calling 509-572-3700.