Navigating Prenuptial Agreements in North Carolina

So, you’re planning your dream wedding, but amidst all the excitement, you’re also thinking about the practical aspects of your future together. Prenuptial agreements, often referred to as “prenups,” can be a valuable tool to address financial and property matters before marriage. If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement in North Carolina, it’s essential to understand how they work, what they can and cannot include, and the legal requirements for their validity.

1. The Basics of Prenuptial Agreements:

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract entered into by two individuals before they get married. It outlines how specific financial and property matters will be handled in the event of a divorce, legal separation, or the death of one spouse.

2. Written and Signed:

To be considered valid in North Carolina, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties before the marriage takes place. Oral agreements or informal arrangements will not hold up in court.

3. Determining Separate Property:

One of the primary purposes of a prenup is to define what property will be considered separate during the marriage. Typically, property acquired during the marriage becomes marital property and is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. However, a prenuptial agreement can designate certain assets as separate, ensuring they remain the sole property of the individual in the event of a divorce.

4. Addressing Alimony:

Prenuptial agreements can detail how alimony or spousal support will be handled in the future. This can include specifying the amount, duration, and terms of alimony payments or even waiving spousal support altogether. It’s important to note that courts may still review and modify alimony provisions if they are found to be unjust or unfair at the time of divorce.

5. Property Division:

The agreement can specify how property will be divided if the marriage ends in divorce. This includes real estate, investments, businesses, personal assets, and any other property acquired during the marriage.

6. Child Support & Child Custody Protection:

In accordance with North Carolina law, prenuptial agreements cannot limit the child support that a child would otherwise receive. Child support is considered a matter of public policy, and courts prioritize the best interests of the child. Further, child custody is determined at the time of divorce by looking at the best interest of the child, which cannot be determined beforehand and is against public policy.

7. Matters of Personal Rights:

Prenuptial agreements can cover various personal rights and obligations of the parties, as long as they do not violate public policy or involve activities prohibited by law.

8. Effective Upon Marriage:

Once signed, a prenuptial agreement becomes effective upon marriage. It serves as a proactive and legally binding document that can provide clarity and protection for both parties in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Seek Legal Guidance:

Drafting a prenuptial agreement in North Carolina requires careful consideration and compliance with state laws. It’s highly advisable for each party to consult with their own attorney to ensure their rights and interests are protected. Legal counsel can help you create a fair and enforceable agreement that aligns with your specific needs and goals.

At Whitaker & Hamer PLLC, our experienced attorneys are here to guide you through the process of creating a prenuptial agreement that suits your unique situation. We understand the importance of these matters and are committed to providing expert legal advice to support your journey into marriage.

To learn more about prenuptial agreements or to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at or call us at (919) 772-7000. Your firm for life, here to assist you in making informed decisions about your future.