Premarital Agreements

Entering into a marriage without a premarital agreement can be analogized to dying without a will. When you die without a will, you agree to be bound by what North Carolina estate law provides related to dying without a will. Similarly, when you marry without a premarital agreement you agree to be bound by all the estate laws, marriage laws, and divorce laws that are in effect at the time you separate or at the time you die. For instance, if your income exceeds your spouse's income, you will likely be required to pay spousal support (alimony) for at least one-half the period of the marriage at the time you and your spouse separate. In addition, whatever property is acquired during the marriage may not be awarded on an equal basis to you and your spouse should there be a separation. Many brides and grooms do not consider the fact that the other spouse, under current law, will not be required to support the children of the marriage beyond age 18 or graduation from high school. In other words, if your children should want to go to college, your spouse will not be required to pay one cent to help pay for their college education unless you have a valid written premarital agreement that requires him or her to do so.

For those who want some input on what happens in the event of separation or death, a much better alternative is to execute a valid premarital agreement before you marry. Couples can then receive the moral, tax and other benefits of their marriage, yet not be subject to the estate, marriage, and divorce laws that can often be so harshly applied.

Contrary to popular myths, premarital agreements do not jinx a marriage. In fact, a well drafted premarital agreements is more likely to promote marital tranquility as both parties understand their financial and legal relationship should there be a separation, divorce, or death of a spouse. Where there is a premarital agreement, a spouse may be less likely to seek a divorce for purely financial reasons.

Parties to a premarital agreement may agree concerning the following:

  • Rights and obligations of each party in any property and debt
  • Rights to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a debt in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property
  • Rights with respect to equitable distribution of property upon separation, marital dissolution, or death
  • Rights to modify or eliminate postseparation support or alimony
  • Rights with regard to making a will, trust, or other documents
  • Rights concerning ownership rights in and disposition of death benefits from life insurance
  • Any other matters, including personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or law imposing a criminal penalty
Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation. This site and its information is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. Feel free to get in touch by electronic mail, letters, or phone calls. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information to us. The North Carolina Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.

Premarital agreement can promote marital tranquility and avoid costly legal proceedings should a separation or divorce occur.

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Phone: 704-865-8684