Virginia Prenuptial Agreements Lawyer

Most people looking forward to getting married are reluctant to think about what happens if they divorce. They might believe that anticipating or even thinking about a divorce makes it more likely to happen. Avoiding difficult topics or conversations is more likely to damage a relationship than having candid discussions and setting realistic expectations.

Speaking with an experienced family attorney about how the law treats couples when they split up could help you and your fiancé refine your understanding about handling your assets both during and after marriage. If you decide on advance planning, a Virginia prenuptial agreements lawyer could draft a contract that expresses your wishes and will be enforceable in court.

What Happens if You Do Not Have a Prenup

Divorcing couples must divide their marital property, which is anything either spouse acquired during the marriage, regardless of who paid for it or whose name is on the registration or title. Anything either spouse owned when they got married as well as inheritances either spouse received while married is separate property in most cases. However, sometimes a spouse can gain an interest in the other spouse’s separate property—a skilled Virginia prenuptial agreements attorney could advise a person on how to guard against that outcome.

When the couple cannot agree on how to split the marital property, the judge will decide. The judge considers factors such as each spouse’s:

  • Education, work history, and capacity to make a living
  • Financial and non-economic contributions to the marriage
  • Age, health, and domestic responsibilities
  • History of wasting marital assets

Marriage length is another factor judges consider when dividing marital property.

Divorcing couples must also determine whether one of them will receive ongoing financial support from the other. When they disagree, the judge will decide based on factors similar to those governing property distribution. The law requires that marital property divisions be fair and spousal support be based on one spouse’s need and the other’s capacity to pay, but what the judge deems fair might not be equitable in a particular case.

Advantages of a Prenup

One of the advantages of having a prenup is the couple gets to decide together what is fair for them. If there is an asset one partner wants to protect, the prenup allows them to do so as long as the other partner gets something in return. A prenup does not have to split marital assets 50/50—if both parties think it is fair, a court will uphold it as long as it meets legal requirements.

The prenup could also determine whether one of the partners will pay spousal support. It could allow for ongoing support if the:

  • Parties are married for a specific number of years
  • Children of the marriage are younger than a certain age
  • Disparity in their incomes is more than a given percentage.

One spouse may also waive the right to ongoing support in a prenup.

A couple with a valid prenuptial agreement could file for an uncontested divorce. Doing so is faster, more economical, and less stressful than a litigated divorce. Most couples make mighty efforts to save their marriages, but when it cannot be salvaged, prenuptial agreements make it much easier for parties to move forward with their separate lives.

Legal Requirements for Virginia Prenups

A prenuptial agreement and any subsequent modifications must be in writing, and both parties must sign it. Although a couple signs the prenup before the wedding, it does not become effective until they are married.

Virginia Code § 20-151 describes the enforceability of a prenup. Both parties must enter the agreement willingly, and one party may not unduly pressure the other to sign. Both parties must have an opportunity to have independent legal professionals review the agreement and explain its terms. When the prenup requires one party to give up their rights, the other party must offer something in return.

Courts sometimes will not enforce a prenup that is unconscionable, which means shockingly unfair. When one party did not have a chance to review an agreement with their own attorney, the court could set the agreement aside. A seasoned prenup lawyer in Virginia could advise a couple on how to increase the likelihood their agreement will withstand judicial scrutiny.

Consult a Virginia Prenuptial Agreements Attorney to Learn More

If you plan to marry, you should consider a prenuptial agreement. Frank conversations about money now could save you considerable pain later.

A Virginia prenuptial agreements lawyer could help you and your fiancé draft an agreement, or they could review an agreement someone else drafted to ensure you understand its implications. Make an appointment to speak with a knowledgeable attorney today.