Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in West Virginia
Make sure your rights are protected in marriage and divorce
Marriage is many things – a committed relationship, a promise to grow old together, and so on. But it’s also a legal contract, and as with any other contract that affects your life, it’s important to make sure the terms are clear. For some couples, that means writing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
This isn’t a decision to make lightly, but it’s also not just for the rich and famous; prenups and postnups can be useful for people from all walks of life. If you’re considering whether a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is right for you, talk to a West Virginia family law attorney at Klie Law Offices. Schedule your case evaluation with a member of our legal team today.
What is a prenuptial agreement? What’s included in one?
A prenuptial agreement, also known as an “antenuptial agreement,” is a contract between two parties who intend to get married that determines how their property rights, obligations, and property distribution will be handled in the event of a divorce or legal separation. A postnuptial agreement is much the same but entered into during the marriage. A postnuptial agreement can also be used to modify a previous prenup or postnup.
Prenups and postnups can address any of the financial aspects of the marriage, including property, education, retirement funds, spousal obligations, debt, inheritances, and life insurance. They can also address spousal support (alimony) in the event of a divorce or separation.
However, prenups and postnups cannot address matters related to child custody, child support, or visitation. Those decisions are made based on the best interests of the child, and you can’t bargain away your child’s rights in your marriage. They also cannot cover issues unrelated to finances, like adultery.
Why might I want a prenup or postnup?
There are several reasons you might want a prenuptial agreement, including:
- You have children from a previous relationship and want to clarify who will inherit your personal property (especially if you want to have more children with your new spouse).
- You own a business and want to make sure it stays separate from your marriage.
- You have previously been divorced and want more security and predictability in your next marriage.
- You or your spouse has significant debt – a prenup may be able to keep one spouse’s creditors from harassing the other spouse.
Think of a prenuptial agreement as a type of insurance for your marriage. You don’t get married expecting to get divorced, but you also don’t buy auto insurance expecting to be in a car crash. Statistically, the unexpected is going to happen to someone, so it’s important to be prepared just in case that someone is you.
We can help you create a valid prenup or postnup in West Virginia
To be valid, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement must be agreed to and signed by both spouses.
If you want your agreement to hold up in court, it also must comply with state law. On paper, you can put whatever you want in a prenuptial agreement, but the courts won’t enforce anything outside the scope of what it’s supposed to cover (that is, your finances). So, if you don’t have an attorney draft or review your agreement to ensure that it’s legally enforceable, you may end up with much less protection than you think – and you won’t know until you get divorced or separated, which is a bad time to find out.
In addition, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be challenged if it’s too lopsided in one party’s favor, or if one party argues that they didn’t know what they were signing or signed under duress or coercion. That’s why it’s best to ensure that you and your spouse both have legal representation when hammering out a prenup or postnup – it’s much harder to challenge later if the challenger was represented by counsel when they signed the contract.
Talk to an experienced attorney about your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
Prenups aren’t for everyone. Some people are opposed to them for personal, moral, or religious reasons, and that’s fine. It’s worth noting, though, that in a sense, everyone has a prenup – if you don’t create a prenuptial agreement yourself, then you’ve implicitly agreed to put state law in charge of your finances in the event of a divorce. You may be okay with that, but you should know what you’re getting into.
What’s always true is that you should talk to a family law attorney about the possibility of a prenup or postnup. You don’t want to go into a contract that can determine your financial future without legal representation. Get started by talking to an experienced lawyer at Klie Law Offices. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule your case evaluation with a member of our legal team.