Prenuptial Agreements in North Carolina
Can a prenuptial agreement determine property division?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by two individuals prior to marriage. It puts forth details about property division in the event of separation, divorce or death. Prenuptial agreements also cover issues related to alimony payments that will come into play if the marriage ends in a divorce. It may also put forth guidelines for alimony modification, elimination of alimony and other factors. Under North Carolina law, prenuptial agreements cannot cover issues related to child support.
Are Prenuptial Agreements Necessary?
With the increasing divorce rates across the United States including North Carolina, it may make sense to have a prenuptial agreement as it can offer financial security to a certain extent to the dependant spouse. North Carolina law does support equitable property distribution (50/50) during a divorce, but with a prenuptial agreement in place, the process takes place faster and is less expensive than litigation. A qualified attorney can help enforce the terms of the prenuptial agreement as it applies to the division of your assets during the divorce proceedings.
Who Can Sign Prenuptial Agreements?
Any couple intending to marry can sign a prenuptial agreement. But perhaps, it is recommended more in situations where the existing income, property etc are significantly high and the chances of long drawn out litigation for property division post separation is a real possibility.
Is the Prenuptial Agreement Binding?
The court will consider the prenuptial agreement binding and can enforce its terms during the division of your assets unless it is proven that the agreement was signed under duress or coercion or is unfair towards one partner. It is impossible to cover every situation that might come up in your case here but basically the court is looking at factors such as the timing of the agreement (i.e. not 30 days before you wedding), whether or not all of your assets were disclosed prior to the signing, whether you have comingled your property, and whether or not you provided fairly. Remember, certain assets such as retirement plans may not be covered by a pre-nuptial agreement and in certain circumstances a judge can order alimony even if it has been waived in a pre-nuptial agreement.
Finally if there are elements in the assets division that have not been included in the prenuptial agreement, they will be considered separately and in the usual manner.
We can help draft a prenuptial agreement before your marriage or help you enforce the terms of your prenuptial agreement in the event of divorce. We can also help you if you feel that the agreement was signed under duress. Signing a prenuptial agreement is never something that should be done lightly. Please consider consulting with an attorney prior to agreeing to terms that you may not entirely understand. While a prenuptial agreement can prevent arguments later when drafted and signed properly, it can also cause hurt feelings and anger if a spouse believes they signed something that wasn’t fair.