Charleston WV Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys
Prenuptial agreements, also referred to as “prenups,” are legally binding agreements that you enter into prior to marriage. If you are familiar with these agreements, you’ve likely heard that they can protect a person’s assets if they are entering a marriage with significantly more than their partner. However, there are numerous situations in which prenuptial agreements can protect your best interests.
Considering a prenuptial agreement prior to your upcoming wedding? We’ll help you get started. Call Hardy Pence at 304-407-7852 today.
What Prenuptial Agreements Can Do for You
Prenuptial agreements are a great tool for protecting your assets if you’re entering a marriage with real estate, a high income, substantial savings, or anything else you wouldn’t want to lose in a divorce. However, prenuptial agreements aren’t just for divorce—they can also help couples create blended families.
Should one partner pass away unexpectedly, it’s important to ensure that their children are protected. A prenuptial agreement can clarify your intentions regarding your property, ensuring that your children from your first marriage are still provided for even if you pass before your spouse.
Many couples find that prenuptial agreements actually strengthen their communication and show them what to expect from their marriage. While some feel that it is planning for divorce (and therefore making it more likely), many others find that setting clear boundaries and expectations ahead of time is good for their marriage.
Requirements for a West Virginia Prenuptial Agreement
For a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable in West Virginia, its terms must be put in writing and both parties must sign off on it. Even more importantly, each partner must sign the agreement voluntarily. If someone signs under duress or coercion, that invalidates the prenuptial agreement.
Additionally, West Virginia law requires that both parties have the opportunity to meet with a lawyer. While either spouse can waive that right, we highly recommend that everyone involved consult their own attorney. It’s important to know what you’re signing and its implications.
What You Can Include in a Prenuptial Agreement
There are many items that you can include in your prenuptial agreement and know that those terms will be enforced. They include:
- How property will be distributed in the event of a divorce: Outlining what each party is bringing into the marriage and what they will leave the marriage with is one of the main benefits of a prenuptial agreement. It allows individuals to protect assets that they built prior to the marriage.
- Who is responsible for debts: This can be a useful clause to include if either party has a history of financial irresponsibility or debt acquisition. It ensures that their spouse will not take on those debts in the event of a divorce.
- Setting aside inherited or family property: If your family has real estate, inherited antiques, or family businesses, you likely don’t want those going to your spouse if you divorce. You can include that in a prenuptial agreement.
- Alimony: If one partner earns much more than the other, you may wish to specify how much spousal support the lower-earning party would receive in a divorce.
- How children from a previous marriage will be cared for after death: This is an incredibly important benefit for people with children from previous relationships.
There are also several things that you cannot include in a prenuptial agreement. Perhaps the most important is child custody. Child custody is a decision that is made based on the child’s best interests, so the parents cannot make that decision ahead of time for the child. Similarly, child support cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. The child’s best interests must always be the priority—not the terms of an agreement predating the child’s existence.
You should also avoid including any clauses that appear to provide a financial incentive for divorce. A prenuptial agreement is essentially insurance if divorce happens; it should not encourage divorce.
Enforcing an Agreement
While you will hopefully never need to actually enforce the terms of your prenuptial agreement, it’s important to create a prenuptial agreement that is enforceable. First, make sure your prenuptial agreement does not include any illegal clauses. If you do, it’s likely that the judge will invalidate the entire prenuptial agreement.
An agreement is also unenforceable if either party was coerced into signing it or signed it under duress. Consider, for example, a couple getting married on a Saturday. If one partner presents the other with the prenuptial agreement shortly before heading down the aisle, claiming that they will not go through with the marriage until it’s signed, that is a classic example of duress.
How We Can Help You
The terms of your prenuptial agreement lay the groundwork for a smooth transition into married life. Whether you want to draft a prenuptial agreement, or your partner is asking you to sign one that has been drafted by their attorney, you need legal counsel. Including the wrong terms in your prenuptial agreement is useless at best, resulting in terms that cannot be enforced; at worst, those terms could cause the entire agreement to be invalidated.
When you work with the family law team at Hardy Pence, you can explore every aspect of prenuptial agreements, discuss exactly what you want to protect and what your deepest concerns are, and what terms aren’t important to you. If we need to negotiate the terms with your partner’s attorney, we’ll advocate for your best interests and ensure that you are protected should you ever divorce.
We hope that you will never need to take your prenuptial agreement to court and enforce its terms—but if you do, you’ll be glad that you chose our team.
Discuss Your Prenuptial Agreement Concerns with Hardy Pence
The sooner you begin discussing your prenuptial agreement with Hardy Pence, the more time we have to make sure it encompasses all of your needs and priorities. Get started now by setting up a consultation. Just call us at 304-407-7852 or get in touch online.