If you plan to get married, you and your soon-to-be spouse may benefit from a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements address how specific financial issues or responsibilities will be addressed in the event of future separation, divorce, or both. The provisions in a prenuptial agreement will go into effect after the wedding. A prenuptial agreement must be legally and validly executed according to North Carolina law to be legally enforceable.

At Greene Wilson Crow & Smith, we can provide legal advice for your unique situation. One of our skilled family law attorneys can answer your questions and advise you on how a prenuptial agreement may benefit you. We can work with you to negotiate and draft a beneficial, legally enforceable prenuptial agreement. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith to schedule an initial consultation and learn more.

What Types of Issues Do Prenuptial Agreements Address?

When creating a prenuptial agreement, you and your future spouse can decide what types of issues you’d like the agreement to address. Including these issues in a written contract will clarify how you’d like them addressed should you separate or divorce. If you decide to separate or divorce, you can petition a court to enforce the terms of your prenuptial agreement as part of your separation or divorce agreement.

Some issues that come up in legal separations and divorces can’t be included in a prenuptial agreement. For example, a prenuptial agreement can’t address child custody and child support matters. They need to be addressed by the court at the time of separation or divorce. Some of the issues you may want to include in your prenuptial agreement include the following:

  • The property rights and duties of each party
  • The management of separate and marital property during the marriage
  • Whether a specific property should be categorized as separate or marital property
  • How interest and appreciation of the parties’ assets should be classified
  • Whether one spouse will receive spousal support/alimony
  • The amount and term of spousal support/alimony
  • Whether estate planning documents such as wills and trusts can be used to carry out the provisions of the prenuptial agreement
  • How death benefits paid out by life insurance policies should be managed
  • Which state’s laws should govern the agreement
  • Any other issues that need to be addressed

Are Prenuptial Agreements Enforceable in North Carolina?

Yes, properly executed prenuptial agreements are legally enforceable. Like many other states, North Carolina has adopted the Prenuptial Agreement Act, which sets forth all the formal requirements for prenuptial agreements. According to North Carolina law, prenuptial agreements must be written down and signed by both future spouses to be legally enforceable. The document must be signed before a notary public. Once signed, the prenuptial agreement will take effect when the couple gets married. 

Both Future Spouses Must Be Fully Informed 

For a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable, both future spouses must understand the terms of the agreement. Both parties must voluntarily decide to agree to the prenuptial agreement. One party cannot threaten or pressure the other party to sign. The agreement must be free from undue influence exerted over either side, fraud, duress, or coercion. Both spouses should be represented by their attorney, who can inform them of their rights and responsibilities according to the agreement. 

Both parties require full financial disclosure before signing a prenuptial agreement. When both parties fully understand the other party’s financial situation, they will enter the marriage with greater transparency about assets and debts. Disagreements related to finances are one of the most common causes of divorce. When a married couple begins their marriage having already discussed every aspect of their finances and future goals, they begin on a firmer foundation.

Additionally, the terms of the agreement cannot be so unfair to one party that enforcing the agreement would be seen as unconscionable and a violation of public policy. Before signing a prenuptial agreement, it’s wise to discuss the terms of the agreement in-depth with an attorney. If one or more of the terms are unfair to you, your attorney can work to negotiate for more equitable terms. 

The Benefits of Creating Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are important planning tools that can benefit many couples. They provide an opportunity to resolve financial conflict before the issue becomes serious. Discussing financial issues before marriage allows the couple to learn more about each other and their mutual goals through an objective, thoughtful decision-making process. 

When couples have a plan in place should the marriage unravel, they may be able to avoid bitter disputes later on. Prenuptial agreements can minimize future expenses associated with a drawn-out divorce process involving conflict over property distribution and other issues.

Is a Prenuptial Agreement Right for Your Unique Situation?

If you want to protect your financial interests and have greater security related to the assets you bring into the marriage, a prenuptial agreement may be right for you. Specifically, if you inherited a significant sum of money or real estate, a prenuptial agreement could ensure that you leave the marriage still owning those assets. Prenuptial agreements can also act as estate planning instruments if you have children from previous relationships or any disabled adult family members you want to protect. 

When one or both spouses have an ownership interest in a business or are the beneficiary of a trust fund, a prenuptial agreement can be helpful. In other cases, one or both spouses plans to retire or end a successful career after marriage. An agreement could protect both spouses’ financial interests. Additionally, when one spouse has significant monetary obligations, student loans, credit card debts, or other debts, a prenuptial agreement can protect the other spouse should the couple divorce.

Learn More About Creating a Prenuptial Agreement in North Carolina

Whether you have questions about a prenuptial agreement or want to work with an attorney to begin drafting the agreement, Greene Wilson Crow & Smith is here to help. Our prenuptial agreement attorneys can provide a legal perspective on how an agreement could specifically help you, along with possible drawbacks. Our family law attorneys are well-versed in the governing laws and procedures for creating a prenuptial agreement. As a full-service law firm, we have a strong track record of successful legal advocacy and client satisfaction. Contact Greene Wilson Crow & Smith to learn more.