Summer is a popular time for weddings across the nation, including right here in Virginia. Soon-to-be spouses may be eager to exchange wedding vows and celebrate the occasion with their loved ones. While their wedding day may have their full attention at this time, it is important that they think of their lives in the future as a married couple. Specifically, they should make sure they are on the same page regarding financial issues. For this reason, some couples choose to execute a premarital agreement, also referred to as a prenuptial agreement, prior to walking down the aisle.
The Code of Virginia §20-150 delineates what topics can be included in a premarital agreement. First, a premarital agreement can include language describing each spouse’s rights and obligations with regards to both separate and marital property. In addition, a premarital agreement can include clauses about each spouse’s right to purchase, sell or otherwise exercise management and control of property. Premarital agreements can also contain language regarding how property will be divided upon divorce or the death of one of the spouses. The issue of spousal support can also be addressed in a premarital agreement.
Premarital agreements can also include provisions regarding the making of an estate plan that will carry out the terms of the premarital agreement. Also, premarital agreements can include clauses covering who will have the rights to any death benefits received from a life insurance policy. The parties to a premarital agreement can address which state law will govern the agreement. Finally, premarital agreements can include language on any other topic, such as personal rights and obligations, so long as these clauses do not violate public policy and are not illegal.
As this shows, a premarital agreement can address many financial issues. It is important, however, that all legalities regarding the creation of such an agreement are followed, so that the agreement can be enforced in court if necessary. For example, each spouse may need to retain their own attorney to ensure their rights are understood prior to signing the agreement, and both spouses must be totally transparent with regards to all of their assets, debts and sources of income. Failing to meet the legal requirements regarding the creation of a premarital agreement could result in a document that is void, so it is important that each spouse understands what is expected of them when executing a premarital agreement.