Premarital agreements, or prenuptial agreements, are a type of contract between two people who plan on getting married. The focus of the agreement is to outline what will happen if the marriage ends. Most of the major issues that a court would decide during a divorce, including the division of property and the awarding of spousal support, can be covered in premarital agreements. At Robinson Law, PLLC, our dedicated Virginia family law lawyers have decades of experience drafting effective premarital agreements that outline our clients’ needs upfront, in advance of any marital issues. By setting up a few common understandings, you and your soon-to-be spouse can fully understand each other’s expectations and can have a concrete agreement in place that you can both rely on.Why Create a Premarital Agreement?
Everyone gets married thinking it will last forever. However, that is not always the case. People grow apart, priorities change, parenting styles differ, and often, this leads to divorce. This is a fact of life that couples should acknowledge before saying “I do.” However, too often, couples turn a blind eye to these realities, which can lead to major problems down the road if the couple ever gets divorces.
While any couple can benefit from a premarital agreement, there are certain situations where they are especially useful, including:
- Second marriages where one or both spouses have children from previous relationships;
- Marriages in which one spouse has significantly more assets;
- Marriages occurring later in life in which the spouses have accrued assets over time that they wish to keep separate; and
- Marriages in which one spouse has a significant amount of debt.
If a divorcing couple does have a premarital agreement, the court will divide the couple’s assets. When determining which spouse gets what, Virginia courts will not split assets down the middle and will instead rely on the model of equitable distribution. This means courts will consider various factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions, the education and employment skills of each spouse and the age and health of the spouses.
Prenuptial agreements don’t have to destroy the romance surrounding a marriage. Instead, creating a premarital agreement is an opportunity for couples to work together to outline a set of common understandings of what will happen should things not go as planned.Limits to Premarital Agreements
Premarital agreements are a great tool in that they allow couples to plan for the unexpected. However, these agreements cannot resolve every possible issue confronting a divorcing couple. For example, a couple cannot include a term in a Virginia premarital agreement that is illegal or counter to public policy. Additionally, you cannot cover issues related to child custody or child support. When it comes to child custody, the court must do whatever it determines is in the best interests of the child. And, while child support is payable to a parent, the right to child support technically belongs to the child.If You’re Already Married, Is It Too Late for a Premarital Agreement?
If you are currently married, you cannot enter into a premarital agreement. However, that doesn’t mean you are without options. Virginia law allows married couples to create postnuptial agreements, which have all the same benefits as a prenuptial agreement. The only difference being that the agreement becomes effective immediately because the couple is already married.Contact a Virginia Family Law Attorney for Assistance
If you are getting married in the near future and are interested in a premarital agreement, reach out to the dedicated Virginia family law attorneys at Robinson Law. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience handling some of the most complex and contested Virginia divorces. This gives us a keen understanding of the most common issues that come u, and how to avoid them by creating effective premarital agreements. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at (888) 259-9787 today.