Prenuptial Agreements in Washington

Posted On July 12, 2022 Family Law,Property Division

A prenuptial agreement in Washington is a contract a couple enters into prior to their wedding. Having a prenuptial agreement does not mean that you and your future spouse anticipate a divorce. Instead, it allows each party to take an honest look at their individual financial situation and decide what will happen to their finances in the case of divorce. Our Spokane family law attorneys are here to explain this process.

Prenuptial Agreement Filing Process

To create a valid prenuptial agreement in Washington, there are several guidelines that must be followed:

  • Speak to your future spouse about filing a prenup so that you are both entering the agreement willfully.
  • Meet with an attorney and determine which assets will be included.
  • Sign the prenuptial agreement at least one month before the wedding in front of a notary.
  • Store the agreement in a safe place.

An attorney is not required by law for this process, and the document does not need to be filed with the court unless you  dissolve your marriage. However, its enforceability may come into question if neither party or only one party had an attorney advise them.

Are Prenuptial Agreements Enforceable in Washington?

Whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable in Washington or not is decided on a case-by-case basis. Unlike many states, Washington courts disfavor prenups, and a statute governing their enforceability has not been established. To be enforceable, they must meet the following standards the court applies to other contracts:

  • The contract is in writing, and each party fully understood the terms of the agreement.
  • The prenup is fair, considering the circumstances of each party.
  • Each party’s assets are fully disclosed.
  • The prenup was executed far in advance of the marriage.
  • Neither spouse was under any undue pressure to sign the agreement.

Its validity will rely heavily on transparency, clarity, and fairness. For example, if it is discovered that there are hidden assets, other fraudulent conduct, or a breach of one or more provisions in the agreement, the prenup likely will not be enforceable.

Issues Commonly Addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement in Washington

Prenuptial agreements in Washington commonly address some or all of the following issues, but this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Who will continue ownership and management of existing and future assets;
  • The adequacy of compensation for the owner-spouse of separate assets;
  • The requirement for one or both spouses to maintain life insurance;
  • Details on alimony (e.g., amount, type, duration);
  • Whether there is a waiver of the right to alimony;
  • How property will be divided if the parties separate, divorce, or one spouse dies, including assets acquired before and after the marriage.

Can a Prenuptial Agreement Determine Child Custody and Support in Washington?

A prenuptial agreement cannot decide or completely eliminate child support amounts, child custody, or child access issues. While it may speak to such arrangements and the desires of each party, they are always modifiable based upon what is in the children’s best interests and the applicable financial guidelines. However, if the parties divorce and no one challenges the prenuptial agreement, these provisions can be self-enforced.


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