By: Ariana Meyers
What is a premarital agreement?
A premarital agreement is a contract that you and your fiancé enter into and sign before you become husband and wife. This agreement will likely outline issues surrounding the division of assets and debts, spousal support and much more. A premarital agreement is absolutely critical when you are entering a second marriage, anticipate receipt of an inheritance or are involved in a family business with anticipated ownership someday.
What can you agree to before you say “I Do?”
The main consideration in a premarital agreement is identifying separate and marital property. Separate property is property that belongs to one spouse prior to the marriage. Marital property is property that is earned or acquired during the marriage. While marital property will be divided between spouses in a divorce, separate property will not. Absent a premarital agreement, it is not that simple. In North Dakota, almost all property is subject to division upon divorce.
Parties can also agree to spousal support in a premarital agreement. Spousal support is when one party gives financial support to the other after a divorce.
It is important to note that child-related issues, such as child support or child custody issues, are non-negotiable. Any child-related provisions in a premarital agreement will be unenforceable.
How can you make sure your premarital agreement is enforceable?
Take your time. A close timeline between signing on the dotted line and walking down the aisle tends to show that at least one party was pressured into signing the agreement without fully and fairly considering its contents. This may lead a court to decide the agreement is not enforceable.
Communicate and disclose all of your assets fully and fairly. In order to have a valid agreement, each party needs to know exactly what he or she is agreeing to. At a minimum, you and your future spouse should provide a detailed list that provides each party’s income, assets, and debts.
Be separately represented. Each party to a premarital agreement has a right to their own attorney. This right can be waived; however, this is likely not in either party’s best interest. Now, you may be seeing dollar signs at the thought of hiring two attorneys to draft and review an agreement. With a premarital agreement, you will greatly reduce your legal fees should divorce occur in the future.
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