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Marital Contracts, Part I: Pre-Nuptial Agreements

A couple can enter into a contract various times throughout the marriage. Part I of this 3-part series on marital contracts will focus on the first chronological type of marital contract that a couple can enter into, which is a contract or agreement entered into before the couple marries, usually referred to as a pre-nuptial agreement (“pre-nup” for short) or an antenuptial agreement.

Requirements for Enforcing a Pre-Nuptial Agreement

First and foremost, it is important to remember that a pre-nuptial agreement is still a contract, and some of the requirements and rules regarding contracts still apply. In addition to those contract laws, there are also specific laws regarding pre-nuptial agreements. Most states have adopted their own versions of various acts relating to pre-nuptial agreements, such as the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act or the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. Thus, it is important to consult an attorney familiar with family law and contract law in order to understand your state’s law.

Although this may vary from state to state, the most common requirement for enforcing a pre-nuptial agreement is making sure there was adequate disclosure of information between the parties. This usually refers to the disclosure of each party’s financial assets. For example, a pre-nuptial agreement may not be enforced if one party did not tell the other about all of the property that he or she owns or lied about his or her income. How much needs to be disclosed often varies according to each state’s law. And in some cases, it may be enough that the spouse reasonably should know about the other’s financial assets based on the circumstances of their relationship even if they were not all disclosed in the agreement.

Other common requirements for enforcing a pre-nuptial agreement are:

  1. that both of the parties to the agreement enter into the agreement voluntarily, without being coerced and;
  2. that each party has access to adequate and independent legal representation.

What constitutes coercion may vary in each state. Depending on the circumstances, it may be considered coercion when one of the parties is forced to sign the agreement on the actual wedding day with the threat that the wedding would not occur without him or her signing.

Having adequate and independent legal representation not only helps ensure that adequate disclosure occurs, but also that any clauses in the agreement are reasonable and understood by the party seeking the legal representation. The attorneys at Patriots Law Group can help protect your interests in a pre-nuptial agreement.

How a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Affects Alimony

A pre-nuptial agreement is a necessary consideration when undergoing a divorce. The terms of the pre-nuptial agreement can affect the amount and type of spousal support or alimony that a spouse can receive. That means that it is important to ensure that the terms of the agreement are fair and acceptable to you before you sign the agreement. Because a pre-nuptial agreement can highly influence or even dictate a spousal support award, the enforceability of the agreement is greatly important.

The attorneys at Patriots Law Group have extensive experience in contract and family law matters. Contact them today for help with your pre-nuptial agreement!

DISCLAIMER:  The information above is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice for any particular situation.  No attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this information and may not be relied upon based on the above-statements.  Each individual situation is different and therefore a consultation is necessary before any advice can be relied upon as appropriate and accurate for your situation. Please call Patriots Law Group at 301-952-9000 to set up a consultation if you wish to obtain specific legal advice concerning your situation.