Setting the Terms
Prenuptial agreements—also called premarital agreements, ante-nuptial agreements or prenups—are written private contracts between two people who are about to marry. These agreements set the terms regarding matters such as possession and control of assets, treatment of future earnings and debt, control of property and potential division of property and spousal support if the marriage is later dissolved. These agreements are more common if either or both parties have substantial assets, children from a prior marriage, anticipated inheritances of a substantial nature, high incomes or previous experience in a contested divorce—and want to have potential issues addressed upfront. A prenuptial lawyer, often a lawyer who practices mostly family law, can provide legal advice so you know what terms to include in your prenuptial agreement.
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The Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements
No one goes into a marriage believing that it will fail, but the fact is more than 50 percent of couples in the United States do get divorced. Getting divorced can be expensive, and a valid prenuptial agreement can save you considerable time, money and stress. Furthermore, prenuptial agreements give you the opportunity to make arrangements for what you think is fair in the event the marriage fails, while you still love each other and communication between you is at its strongest and most productive. Typically, at the beginning of your marriage, your head is clear, as opposed to full of the negative emotions and confusion that often surround the dissolution of a marriage. You are more likely to consider and communicate about your true intentions and expectations surrounding the marital relationship, entitlements and obligations.
Prenuptial agreements are valid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. At least 26 states, including North Carolina, have enacted a variation of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which encourages the enforcement of prenuptial agreements.