Should I get a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a premarital agreement or ante-nuptial agreement, is a contract entered into between two parties contemplating marriage. The agreement becomes effective upon their marriage.

The term “prenuptial agreement” often conjures up images of an instrument used by one spouse to protect their income, wealth, or inheritance from the other. Although a prenuptial agreement may be crafted to serve that purpose, prenuptial agreements can do much more than that.

Prenuptial agreements can establish rights and entitlements in the event of death or other occurrences, as well as clarify household duties and financial responsibilities that the parties anticipate during their marriage. In some situations, a prenuptial agreement may be beneficial to a dependent or less wealthy spouse since the agreement may be structured to provide for distribution of specific income or property to that spouse in the event of separation or divorce.

North Carolina General Statute 52B-4(a) states that parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to the following:

(1) The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;

(2) The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;

(3) The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;

(4) The modification or elimination of spousal support;

(5) The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement:

(6) The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;

(7) The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and

(8) Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

Discussing a prenuptial agreement with your spouse-to-be may be one of the less romantic aspects of planning for a marriage; however, it can provide an opportunity to have realistic and honest communications regarding each party’s financial conditions, as well as expectations during the marriage, or in the event of divorce or death.

At Gum, Hillier & McCroskey, PA, our experienced family law attorneys understand the legal complexities and personal sensitivities that factor into a prenuptial agreement, and we are happy to work with you to prepare a prenuptial agreement that meets your goals and protects your interests.

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