Many who are planning to get married seek to give themselves a layer of protection with a premarital agreement. There is often a perception that these agreements are limited to those who have significant assets, but anyone can have a premarital agreement, if they choose to. The document itself comes to the forefront when the couple decides to divorce. Whether it is a high asset divorce or a divorce of more modest means, a premarital agreement can add to the complexity of the case. Understanding what the law says about these agreements, what can be in them and when they are unenforceable is critical for both sides.
A premarital agreement can cover the following issues: the parties’ rights and obligations to property belonging to either or both regardless of when and where it was acquired; the rights to do whatever they choose — sell, buy, use and more — with the property; the right to dispose of the property when the couple separates, divorces, if one dies or if another event happens or does not happen; establishes, modifies, waives or eliminates spousal support; adhering to a will trust or other device; the ownership and disposition of a life insurance policy and its benefits; the law that governs how the agreement is constructed; and any other issue that arises.
Premarital agreements can also be called into question and labeled unenforceable in certain situations. They are: if it was not voluntarily agreed to; if the decision to agree to it was due to duress, being coerced or fraud being perpetrated; if it was unfair at the time and the party did not receive full disclosure of the property and finances, did not waive their right to that disclosure and did not have knowledge of the property and financial obligations.
A couple that has a premarital agreement can find themselves in the middle of a high conflict divorce due to disagreements about it as they move forward with the end of a marriage. Whether it is from the perspective of the party who is benefiting from the premarital agreement or the party who signed it waiving their rights to certain considerations, having legal assistance is a must. A law firm that specializes in family issues and divorce can help with a case.