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Can Prenups Strengthen Marriage?

Can prenuptial agreements strengthen marriage?  Well, the open and honest discussions needed to create a prenuptial agreement can certainly help to create a strong marriage.  When viewed as a tool to create a stable foundation for the future marriage — and to minimize future conflict — creating a prenuptial agreement can be a positive exercise.

The prenuptial agreement must adhere to two main formalities to be valid and enforceable at a later date. It must be in writing, and it must be knowingly and voluntarily signed by both parties.  However, a good prenuptial agreement can be so much more!  It can stimulate discussion between the parties concerning numerous topics that they truly should be discussing before entering into a marriage.  It is therefore essential that the full disclosure of all assets and liabilities be made during the creation of the agreement. Not only does this disclosure help to ensure the enforceability of the agreement, but honesty and openness required between the betrothed can strengthen the skills necessary for a lasting marriage.

The prenuptial agreement may include:

1)      The rights and obligations of each party in the other’s property;

2)      The rights of the parties to manage and control property;

3)      The property rights of the parties upon death, separation, divorce, or other legal event;

4)      Spousal support;

5)      The creation of a will or trust to ensure that the prenuptial agreement can be enforced;

6)      The rights to ownership and disposition of death benefits flowing from a life insurance policy;

7)      The choice of law that will govern the interpretation of the prenuptial agreement;

8)      The personal rights and obligation of either party; and

9)      Any other issues that do not violate public policy or criminal statutes.

The prenuptial agreement should be executed as far in advance of the marriage as possible, and both parties should have adequate time to consider the agreement, and have it reviewed by professionals.

It may be wise for the parties to consider inclusion of a process for settlement of disputes that may occur during the marriage, including mediation, counseling, or arbitration. Although courts will not be bound by prenuptial provisions concerning child care or raising children, it may be wise to include an expression of the parties intentions and wishes on these subjects, as the court may take these statements into consideration.

The law concerning prenuptial agreements may shift in the future, or future events may impact the prenuptial agreement.  For example, a move to a new state should trigger a review under the laws of the new state.  Choosing the a lawyer that helps to facilitate the kind of discussions needed to create a strong, workable agreement can make all the difference!

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An outstanding job on my case to have custody, visitation and support decided in my home state instead of Virginia after I separated from military service.- A.E.