Marriage is a big step, and even if you’re certain it is with the right person, a prenuptial agreement can give you peace of mind. It isn’t required, but it is often a good idea if one or both spouses have significant assets. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding prenuptial agreements in Washington state.
What is a Prenup?
A premarital agreement, or prenup, is a contract between two parties who plan to be married. The agreement will usually include provisions for the division and distribution of property, characterization of property, and spousal support upon divorce. It is property-focused and any provisions regarding children, such as child support or custody arrangements, will not be enforced.
Why Make a Prenuptial Agreement?
It might seem unromantic, but you will never regret putting a prenuptial agreement in place. It is similar to obtaining an insurance policy just in case the “worst-case scenario” occurs. In the event that you do decide to separate from and divorce your spouse, a prenuptial agreement can simplify the process and make a stressful time much easier. A few of the reasons why couples consider a prenup are:
One spouse is wealthier than the other.
One spouse has more debt.
Children are involved.
One spouse is a business owner.
To keep sensitive information confidential, such as finances and details about the marriage.
Either spouse was previously married.
Are Prenups Enforceable?
Whether or not a prenup is enforceable in Washington state is decided on a case-by-case basis. Unlike many states, a statute governing the enforceability of premarital agreements has not been adopted. They are considered enforceable if they meet the following court standards applicable to other contracts.
The contract is in writing and is fully understood by each party.
The agreement is fair, considering the circumstances of each party.
Each party’s assets are fully disclosed.
Hiding information regarding assets, any other fraudulent conduct, or a breach of one or more provisions in the agreement can cause a prenup to be unenforceable. The validity of prenups heavily relies on clarity, transparency, and fairness.
What Happens if You Don’t Make One?
Ultimately, you may not be able to protect certain assets or have as much control over how assets are divided. Community property in a Washington divorce is divided 50/50, which could even include your business or family heirlooms. Additionally, spousal support or what happens if either you or your partner prematurely dies will be decided by the court rather than you and your spouse. You may even end up being financially responsible for any tax liabilities or other debts your partner has.
Getting Help from a Spokane Prenup Lawyer
Only your individual situation and goals can determine whether or not a prenuptial agreement is a good idea. Discuss your circumstances with a highly experienced prenup agreement lawyer in Spokane. We will advise you on how to go about protecting your assets and any potential legal implications. Call (509) 327-0777 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.