One of the most exciting times of our lives can be when we are planning a wedding. It signifies the creation of one unit together as a team. However, there is another angle to consider that marriage is a legally binding agreement. There are several things to consider before entering this agreement, and depending on your specific circumstances, you may face some challenges when creating a solid prenuptial agreement.
Who Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement?
If you ask some of those who have been married for years and faced challenges, you may hear the answer to this question is a resounding “everyone.” There are cases, however, when it may make more sense to consider a prenuptial agreement.
Suppose either partner is entering into the marriage with significant debt. In that case, it can be essential to address how this will be taken care of should the couple divorce, so the other partner doesn’t assume the responsibility for the debts that aren’t theirs.
Suppose one or both spouses has been married before. This can create challenges that can be stipulated in a prenuptial agreement. Are there children involved in previous relationships? Are there assets one or both spouses have acquired through an earlier divorce? Prenuptial agreements can include information regarding the above examples and, at the very least, create an open line of communication regarding how previous relationships were resolved.
Suppose one of the spouses brings significant wealth, personal property, or real property into the marriage. It can be essential to understand the expectations of each spouse relative to this wealth and property upon divorce if that occurs.
What Needs to Be Included for a Prenuptial Agreement to Be Enforceable?
Ensuring that the prenuptial agreement is fully enforceable is a crucial aspect to consider. It would be frustrating for anyone to engage in the process and carefully plan for a potential future, only to find out something needed to be added and the plans you had in mind are not enforceable through the courts.
So how do you ensure a prenuptial agreement is enforceable? Start with how it is created. It must be in writing and signed by both parties. An oral agreement will not suffice for the courts.
The agreement should contain a list of both parties’ assets, liabilities, and income. Detailed information about both parties ensures that information isn’t being hidden or left out to benefit one of the parties involved.
The agreement should include a separate page for both parties’ attorneys to sign to ensure that both parties entirely communicate the expectations of the contract.
What are Five Things That Cannot Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?
There are essential items to consider that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement and should be addressed elsewhere.
Information regarding illegal activities. Including specifics about either party’s illegal activities or intentions can invalidate the prenuptial agreement. This may seem straightforward, but it is worth noting.
Child support is a common topic that most couples will want to try to be proactive on, and unfortunately, it isn’t an option to address this in a prenuptial agreement in Washington. It is important and something you and your spouse can discuss with each other and with your attorneys, but including it in your prenuptial agreement isn’t allowed. It may raise concerns about the enforceability of your contract in the future.
Like child support, child custody cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. It can feel like instinct to want to include provisions for child custody after a divorce but is it not enforceable in the state of Washington.
Unfair or unreasonable terms are also prohibited from a prenuptial agreement. Due to these terms being subjective, this can create a gray area. It is essential to discuss with experienced attorneys what may be considered unfair or unreasonable terms for either party involved so as not to invalidate the agreement.
Per the above example, if alimony is stipulated in a prenuptial agreement but is unreasonable for either spouse, it cannot be included. A judge will use their discretion to determine whether or not the alimony plans were reasonable at the time the prenuptial agreement was signed and whether it will affect the agreement’s validity.
What Should I Include in a Prenuptial Agreement?
There are certain items that several couples choose to include in their prenuptial agreements.
One of which is that both parties have an active life insurance policy. This ensures financial stability for the remaining spouse and any children involved after the divorce.
A strategy for managing existing and future assets in a divorce can also be valuable to include.
The allocation of property and other assets can and should also be stipulated to save time and financial distress on either party during an emotionally trying time such as divorce.
Waiving alimony can also be included if reasonable for both parties.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me?
Family law issues can present themselves in several different chapters of our lives. Whether it is a prenuptial agreement, pursuing adoption, navigating a divorce, or choosing mediation, family law can help to ease the stress of the current issues and get you back to living your life as you knew it.
We have a vast knowledge of family law and have the compassion and determination to assist you in each chapter of your life. Call our offices today at (360) 926-9112 to get your specific questions answered and learn more about how we can assist you.