For most couples, protecting their individual assets and financial interests as part of preparation for marriage is unthinkable. For those who are already married, entering into a post-nuptial agreement, especially when they are not contemplating separation, is equally unthinkable as they consider it as something that might mean the end of the marriage. However, these agreements are not intended to indicate that a marriage will not last or, worse, that the marriage is ending: they are merely tools that people can use for overall financial and estate planning.
If you are considering entering into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement in the Virginia Beach area, including Norfolk and Chesapeake, you should contact the Cedar Law Center. We have years of experience in family law and estate planning and may be able to advise you on your best course of action.
Pre-nuptial agreements in Virginia are governed by the Premarital Agreement Act, Va. Code Title 20, Chapter 8. They are intended to protect the premarital assets of one or both spouses and determine how assets are divided before the marriage. Additionally, it helps couples decide how assets that are acquired during the marriage will be divided and whether there are certain types of property that will remain separate even if acquired during the marriage. While some consider them unromantic, couples may decide to enter prenuptial agreements for various reasons. For example,where one or both spouses have been married before and have children from the previous marriage, a pre-nuptial agreement permits them to dictate the distribution of assets after death.
Pre-nuptial agreements are legally binding contracts, and in order to be valid, it must follow the requirements of the Virginia Code. Additionally, each party must provide a fair and reasonable disclosure of property or financial obligations to the other, and without such a disclosure, the agreement may later be declared void.
Pre-nuptial agreements may cover a variety of issues in addition to the disposition of marital property in the event of death or divorce. It may also set forth the rights of each spouse to use property during the marriage, the right of each spouse to alimony in the event of divorce, rights to benefits from life insurance policies, and how premarital debt will be treated in the event of divorce or separation.
Less common than pre-nuptial agreements are post-nuptial agreements. These are contracts entered into between spouses regarding the distribution of property entered into while they are married and is usually the result of a major mid-marriage change. These are governed by the marital agreements provision of Va. Code Â§ 20-155. They may either be an agreement entered