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Premarital Agreements

Premarital Agreements

A premarital agreement is not just for the rich and famous. People of all income levels and ages are increasingly using premarital contracts. To enforce or dispute a premarital agreement in North Carolina, call North Carolina family law attorney Larry Hudspeth at: (910) 455-9921.

What Is a premarital agreement?

Premarital agreements are contracts that are made between two people before they get married. During a marriage, premarital agreements specify rights, responsibilities, and assets if either party dies or divorces. The certainty provided by a premarital agreement can increase happiness in marriage or faciliate peaceful, quiet, and fast separation following divorce.

Why do people need premarital agreements?

A premarital agreement can be helpful in preemptively addressing many different financial issues in marriage and after a divorce. As part of a premarital agreement, couples can specify spending limits and how assets will be allocated if they decide to divorce.

An entrepreneur who has worked hard to build his or her empire before getting married may seek a premarital agreement to protect business owners. An extremely wealthy artist might use a premarital agreement to maintain ownership of paintings after a divorce.

A premarital agreement can also specify whether children from a previous marriage will be included in the estate as heirs.

How do premarital agreements work?

From the statute:

(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.

(b) The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.

Enforceability of Premarital Agreements North Carolina

According to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), a premarital agreement in North Carolina must comply with specific requirements. The arrangements should be in writing and must be signed by both marrying parties.

An agreement only takes effect when the couple marries. Couples can, however, make changes to the premarital agreement later on. Any future modification of a marriage contract must be made in writing and signed by both spouses.

The majority of premarital agreements are enforceable. In some cases, premarital agreements are not valid if one spouse proves that:

  • He/she signed the agreement under duress
  • The contract was badly unfair
  • A spouse missed disclosing some of his or her debts and obligations.
  • Defrauded spouses did not waive their right to see financial details of the other spouse
  • The aggrieved spouse was unlikely to have been aware of the financial position of the other spouse.

However, a premarital agreement cannot be annulled simply because a spouse failed to read and understand before signing it. In addition, North Carolina courts have ruled that a deal that leaves one spouse with more money isn’t necessarily invalid.

Please contact Larry Hudspeth, an experienced family law attorney for more information regarding the enforcement of premarital agreements in North Carolina.