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Although premarital (often referred to as “prenuptial”) agreements have traditionally been associated with wealthy couples who plan to marry, it can be helpful to all couples. Premarital contracts ensure that couples, regardless of wealth and status, know how they are expected to handle unique characteristics of their marriage and what happens if they decide to divorce.

Before you marry, you should consult with a Richmond premarital agreements lawyer. A skilled marital agreements attorney can help you devise equitable contract provisions and even prepare the legal document on your behalf. If your partner presents you with a premarital agreement before your wedding, a lawyer can discuss any future implications the agreement will have on you, and negotiate more favorable terms on your behalf.

Special Considerations Regarding Premarital Agreements in Richmond

In Virginia, all prenuptial agreements executed on or after July 1, 1986, are governed by the Premarital Agreement Act of 1985. Unlike other types of marital agreements recognized in the state, the Act outlines special considerations for creating enforceable premarital (and postmarital) agreements.

Reducing the Contract to Writing

All premarital agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties. If a contract does not adhere to these two formal requirements, then Virginia courts are unlikely to hold that they are enforceable.

Contents of the Agreement

In addition to outlining technical requirements that all premarital agreements must abide by, the Premarital Agreement Act also outlines the types of provisions that parties may include in their contract. Premarital agreements may consist of the following terms:

  • Property division upon divorce or death of a spouse
  • The rights or obligations of the parties to manage or control certain assets
  • The obligation of a spouse to pay spousal support to the other
  • Agreeing to create a will or trust to carry out the intent of this agreement upon death of either spouse
  • The rights and obligations of the parties concerning life insurance benefits
  • The obligations of the parties to assume responsibility for certain debts upon divorce
  • Choice of law provisions dictating which state’s laws will apply if there is a legal dispute concerning the premarital agreement

Amending or Revoking Premarital Agreements

The Act also mandates how and when parties who execute a premarital contract may revoke or amend its provisions after the wedding. Specifically, it requires all amendments to the premarital agreement to be in writing and signed by the parties. Similarly, spouses who wish to revoke their existing premarital agreement must do so by signing a written document that declares their agreement revoked.

Since the Premarital Agreement Act places special conditions on parties who wish to execute these contracts, it may be beneficial to speak with a Richmond premarital agreement lawyer before drafting an agreement. A competent attorney can advise people on complying with the formal requirements necessary to create a legally enforceable agreement.

Reviewing and Negotiating Terms of Premarital Agreements

Although Virginia law does not require that one partner have an independent attorney review a premarital agreement that is drafted by the other partner’s attorney, it is prudent to do so before signing a contract. Allowing an independent attorney to review the agreement could prevent someone from entering into an agreement contrary to their best interests.

A local premarital agreements attorney can help parties ensure that they create a fair agreement with their partners by providing legal advice concerning particular provisions. An attorney can also speak with someone regarding whether current agreement terms are unfavorable to them. If not, then they can negotiate with the other party’s counsel to create an equitable compromise.

Speak with a Richmond Premarital Agreements Attorney Today

If you are getting married, you should consult with a Richmond premarital agreements lawyer before your wedding. They can help you decide whether you need a pre-marriage agreement to protect your assets in a potential divorce and determine whether a contract presented by your partner is fair and equitable before you sign it. Call the office now to schedule a consultation.

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