Prenuptial lawyers in Atlanta wish that all marriages would stand the test of time. The sad truth, however, is that the majority of marriages really do end in divorce. While no couple should get married anticipating that this will happen, working out some prenuptial details is the best way to protect you and your spouse in the event of a divorce.
Making a prenuptial agreement is one thing, but how can you make sure that it will stand up in court if your spouse contests it? How can you make sure that a judge won’t throw it out? Here are some key tips for making a prenup that will be binding.
- Make sure to get it in writing. Take it from a prenup lawyer who has handled plenty of these cases in Atlanta; oral agreements become “he said, she said,” and are not valid.
- Disclose all of your assets and liabilities. If you or your spouse hide anything, the prenup may be tossed out on the grounds that full disclosure was not made at the time of signing.
- The prenup must not be unconscionable (that is, so unfair to one side that no reasonable person would have agreed to it). If the agreement is too lopsided, favoring one spouse over the other, a judge may throw it out entirely, leaving you with no protection.
- The prenup must be signed voluntarily. Be sure to do this well before the wedding; one signed the day before, for example, may be seen as coercing the signature of the other party in order for the wedding to be held at all.
- Both parties must sign, and there should be witnesses. You need proof that the signing was voluntary and not coerced, so witnesses are critical. A notary is your best bet, as their claim will hold up if your spouse takes you to court in a divorce.
The details of a prenup are important, no matter which side of the contract you are on. It may protect one spouse’s assets, but it can also protect a spouse from the other party’s liabilities. Both parties have every reason to make sure that it is fair and properly executed. It may seem unromantic, but it’s a necessary step, no matter what level of assets you may have.
Prenuptial lawyers in Atlanta see cases where spouses have every right to contest the prenup, and are doing so because it is unconscionable. Other times, there is a loophole in the contract that allows a spouse who should get less by the terms of the contract take a major bite out of his or her ex-spouse’s assets.
Making a prenup that is fair, legally binding, and that will hold up in court can be tricky. Complicating the matter further is the fact that a wedding is emotionally charged. Of course everyone wants the marriage to last and for the prenup to never come into play, but unfortunately, prenup lawyers in Atlanta use these documents all the time to properly distribute assets during a divorce. Love and good intentions just aren’t always enough.
If you are getting married, and are ready to put your intentions in writing, call our Atlanta prenuptial lawyers at 770-425-6060.
There are few times in life that are as exciting and full of promise as the period of wedding and newlywed planning. People know that their wedding day will be one of the most remembered of their lives. While there is certainly stress involved in making so many decisions, there is also an underlying sense of fun.
Unfortunately, there are some aspects of newlywed planning that are not quite as enjoyable as others. Still, paying attention to things like estate planning and prenuptial agreements help to set up the marriage in a healthy way. Some people will argue against that notion, but marriage lawyers in Atlanta GA have seen the benefits of this kind of preparation.
The prenup itself is a legal contract between the two parties who plan to be married. Just what is covered in the document will depend on you and your future spouse and your circumstances. For example, if this is your first marriage and there are no children involved, your needs will be different than for couples whose marriages will be blending families with stepchildren.
The idea of a prenup is generally to determine how property will be divided should the marriage not survive. It also takes into consideration things such as spousal support that might be extended and the circumstances surrounding it.
State laws vary quite a bit when it comes to prenups, so it’s really important for Atlanta, Georgia, couples to find an attorney that practices within the state. Actually, you will want to find two separate lawyers, as each prospective spouse should have his or her own representation. This is important, not just because it protects each individual’s best interests up front, but because if and when the prenup needs to be upheld, the courts are much more likely to honor it for the same reason.
Not Just for Marriages that End
One mistaken notion that many people have is that prenuptial agreements are only useful if the marriage comes to an end. What commonly gets overlooked is that it is actually a useful tool in avoiding divorce. When couples take the time to outline their thoughts about the financial aspects of their upcoming marriage, they are better able to get on the same page about money, fidelity, and other important topics that the marriage lawyers are going to bring up for discussion.
We help lots of prospective brides or grooms in and around Atlanta plan for their futures together with prenuptial agreements. If you’d like our help, please call us at 770-425-6060.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A marriage is not only a union of love and families; it’s also about combining of money and property. This might not be an issue if both partners are young and have own little yet, but if either spouse (or both spouses) is more successful, with a career or business of their own, a prenuptial agreement is especially important. A prenuptial agreement may also be wise if one spouse has children (or assets, or debt) from a prior relationship, or is expecting an inheritance.
Despite popular opinion, a prenuptial agreement is not only for the rich and famous. Further, a prenuptial agreement doesn’t mean you believe your marriage will fail. This article in the Huffington Post lists and discusses 10 reasons why a prenuptial agreement is a good idea—and none of those reasons is “You don’t think your marriage can survive.” The article lists the following reasons why you should consider a prenuptial agreement:
- Writing A Prenup Can Help You Learn More About Each Other
- Failing to Discussing Financial Issues Can Doom A Relationship
- Separate Property Should Often Remain So After a Marriage
- Potential Spousal Support Liabilities Are Often Encourage an Early Exit
- Divorce Is Expensive
- The Prenuptial Agreement Keeps Peace In The Family
- Financial Independence Creates A Happier Relationship
- Prenuptial Agreements May Provide Freedom From The Other’s Debts
- The Law Is Not Always Fair
- Expectations Are Addressed In Advance
Regardless of your age or position in life, entering into a prenuptial agreement before you walk down the aisle can benefit your family, your money, and your marriage. Don’t let preconceived ideas about prenups and the rich and famous prevent you from protecting your assets. Talk to your beloved and consult with your attorney before you take the plunge into marital bliss.
FindLaw has a list of 10 reasons which may cause a prenuptial agreement to fail. For more details, check out the original post, but this is a list of those reasons:
- NO WRITTEN AGREEMENT.
- NOT PROPERLY EXECUTED.
- YOU WERE PRESSURED.
- YOU DIDN’T READ IT.
- NO TIME FOR CONSIDERATION.
- INVALID PROVISIONS.
- FALSE INFORMATION.
- INCOMPLETE INFORMATION.
- NO INDEPENDENT COUNSEL.
In Georgia, some of these are valid reasons not to enforce a premarital agreement, others may not be. You should review a prenuptial agreement with a lawyer experienced in drafting and enforcing these agreements.
If you need a Georgia prenuptial agreement or have questions about them under Georgia law, we can help. Call us at our Marietta and Atlanta prenuptial agreements law offices at 770-425-6060.
Think “prenuptial agreement” and you think “I love you!”, right? Perhaps not! In my Marietta and Atlanta divorce and family law firm, I find that even though an important legal document like this can protect your bank account and other assets, many folks consider a prenup as a dealbreaker. According to Casey Bond, in an article published at GoBankingRates.com, asking for one can be construed as lack of trust by the party requesting it. Thus, it can be a challenge to persuade a potential spouse that having a prenup is a good idea when they have this attitude. This post summarizes Ms. Bond’s article on the radical concept of using postnuptial agreements to save a troubled marriage.
On the flip side, many engaged couples believe that signing a prenup is equal in importance to the marriage preparations as it is to reserve the church and register for gifts. But suppose you and your spouse chose not to enter into a pre-marital agreement concerning your finances and you now regret that choice? Your answer may be a postnup instead.
Prenup and Postnups : The Differences
Postnuptial agreements, often called post-marital contracts, are much less commonly used than prenups, but their popularity has been increasing in recent years. Essentially, these two contracts are created for the same purpose, but a postnuptial agreement is made after a couple has been married instead of doing it before the wedding.
The postnup’s purpose is to protect each spouse’s individual income and assets in case the marriage ends, whether as a result of divorce or death of one of the spouses. They are widely used in community property states where entitles one spouse is automatically to the other spouse’s assets when they become married. Remember, though, that every state’s laws and requirements surrounding postnuptial agreements are different.
Postnuptial Agreements: Who Needs Them?
Please understand that signing a postnup does not mean that you expect your marriage to end in divorce. These documents certainly are not for everyone, but a postnup can do a lot of good for many marriages under special circumstances:
Revising a Prenup: Many couples who choose to create a postnuptial agreement already have a prenuptial agreement in place. A postnup is often needed when one spouse has a significant shift in finances, like a promotion or inheritance, and the spouses find it necessary to modify the terms of the original prenuptial agreement. Indeed, there can be numerous changes to a postnup as the financial situation within a marriage changes over time.
Protect a Business: Many business owners will want postnups because a divorce could seriously threaten assets of the business or adversely affect outside partners and investors.
Fights About Finance: Any married person knows that finances and money are often a great source of strain on the relationship. This may be more true for some couples than for others. Occasionally couples who frequently argue over their finances and at risk of divorcing over the subject find that a postnuptial agreement can relieve that stress and once again strengthen the marriage.
Adultery: Postnups are also frequently used as resources for managing an unfaithful spouse. In marriages where a spouse has strayed and engaged in an adulterous relationship with another partner, the other may require in a postnuptial agreement that if it occurs again, the philanderer must pay a large amount of cash to their husband or wife. The question of whether or not this will actually improve the marriage is open to question.
Creating a Postnuptial Agreement
If you are already married and you believe the two of you need a postnuptial agreement, you should understand that the process is not as simple as writing up who-gets-what in case you get divorced and having a lawyer approve it. In Georgia, for a post-marital contract to be enforceable, both parties should have individual legal representation, they must provide full disclosure of each party’s financial situation (i.e., no secret bank accounts) and the contract should be reasonably fair to both parties.
In summary, if you find yourself in one of the categories listed above, You might can benefit greatly from having a postnuptial agreement and it could well be beneficial to create one. Whether it’s a business requirement, or whether it could actually save your marriage, if you believe a postnuptial agreement is a good idea, discuss it openly with your spouse. He or she may agree it is a good idea, too.
In our Marietta family law firm, we frequently prepare post-nuptial agreements and pre-nuptial agreements. Please contact us at 770-425-6060 to schedule a Georgia Family Law Strategy Session to discover more about these documents and whether they are appropriate for you and your spouse or spouse-to-be.
SOURCE FOR POST: Could a Postnuptial Agreement Save Your Marriage?, by Casey Bond in GoBankingRates.com
California attorney and mediator Diana Mercer has published an excellent article (reprinted below) on a number of myths about prenuptial agreements.
Diana Mercer, Attorney-Mediator, is the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services in Los Angeles, which mediates premarital agreements. Visit http://www.premaritalmediation.com for a free premarital agreement checklist and more information about prenups, mediation, and premarital mediation. For more information about divorce and divorce mediation, visit http://www.peace-talks.com
Between news coverage, soap operas and family drama, we all have some preconceived notions about premarital agreements (also know as prenuptial agreements). Here are a few of the most common myths, debunked:
Myth 1: Prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy people, my fiance and I are not rich and so we don’t need an agreement.
You may not be rich, but you definitely want to have a successful marriage. Having those honest discussions regarding how the two of you will approach finances will ensure that there won’t be any surprises once you are married. You never want to actually need to enforce the premarital agreement, right? Talking about financial issues in advance will help insure that you handle your finances with minimal conflict during your marriage as well as in case of divorce.
Example: You may become rich in the future. Your education or ideas and talents may one day become more valuable than they are today. You need to think about how you’d want to handle the sale of a book, screenplay or song; you may also need to think about how you’d handle the division of a business in the event of a divorce.
Example: Second and third marriages can often bring conflict between children from prior relationships and new spouses. Clear discussions about finances in a divorce or premature death situation help everyone avoid conflict later.
Myth 2: Prenuptial agreements are designed to simply protect the wealthier spouse and strip the other spouse of all of his or her rights.
Fact: Prenuptial and premarital agreements should be designed to protect both spouses. Premarital agreements which are unfair and completely one-sided are probably not enforceable in court. By definition, the agreement must be fair. The basic requirements for premarital agreements to be enforceable are: signing the agreement must be voluntary, it can’t be unfair when it’s signed; each party needs to make a full disclosure of your assets and debts.
Premarital agreements can be designed so that everyone’s needs are met.
Example: With a premarital agreement, you will know in advance how your assets and debts would be handled in the event you do not stay married. You’re negotiating the property settlement while you’re both in love with each other. You would not be at the mercy of your spouse’s generosity or lack of generosity at the time of a divorce.
Example: If you end up needing your agreement to be enforced by the court, you’ll be glad that you made it reasonable from the beginning (and therefore enforceable). For example, by providing a reasonable support structure for your spouse in the premarital agreement, in the event of a divorce, this agreement defines the support’s limits, terms, amount and duration. If you left it up to a court, you would have no control over any of the terms.
Myth 3: Premarital Agreements Aren’t Romantic.
Fact: Jessica Simpson didn’t think they were romantic, either. And, there’s nothing romantic about fighting about money once you’re married because you never discussed how you’d handle your finances, either. Clearly, premarital agreements are touchy subjects, but consider this quote from the Nolo Press book Prenuptial Agreements: How to Write a Fair and Lasting Contract (Nolo Press 2004):
"While a prenuptial agreement may not seem like a very romantic project, working together to consider and choose the terms of a prenup can actually strengthen your relationship. After all, marriage is a partnership in every sense of the word. Learning how to deal respectfully and constructively with each other about finances is a benefit in itself. So even if you conclude that you don’t need a prenup, using this book can help you converse with each other about the important—and sometimes challenging—financial matters that are sure to arise in the course of your marriage."
"When you marry, you make what you expect and hope will be a lifetime commitment to be there for each other in every way. Your prenup should support and reflect the spirit of partnership with which you approach your wedding vows."
Myth 4: Premarital Agreements must deal with every issue that might come up in a divorce.
Fact: You can include as many issues or as few issues as you wish. Because premarital agreements are private contracts, you can make them as detailed as you want.
Example: If the only thing you want for your premarital agreement to accomplish is to protect your pre-marital property, you can limit your premarital agreement to that issue alone.
If the only thing you want for your premarital agreement to accomplish is to outline what would happen in the event of your death, in addition to a Will or a Trust, you can limit your premarital agreement to that issue alone.
If you want your premarital agreement to cover almost every issue that might come up in a divorce except one or two issues (like spousal support, or contributions to a pension during the marriage, for example), then you can have the agreement cover everything except the issues you want to exclude.
If you want your premarital agreement to cover every issue, you can do that, too.
Myth 5: If we don’t get married, my live-in mate won’t have any claims to my income or property.
Fact: You could risk your income or assets by living together without marrying.
Palimony is a spousal support substitute for alimony or spousal support for people who are not married. Palimony claims are difficult to prove, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying. Also, if you have an oral or written discussion about how you will own property, share income, assets, debts and so forth, it’s sometimes possible to make a claim that contract law applies (as opposed to family law), and that property should be divided even if it’s only in one person’s name, or only one person paid the bills. There are also real estate partition laws that can dictate how property is divided, and in some cases you can even force an involuntary sale at auction.
If you are going to live together without getting married, you’ll want a cohabitation agreement. It’s better to decide who contributes to and owns property before you buy things rather than afterwards.
Example: Remember actor Lee Marvin (The Dirty Dozen and more than 60 other movies)? In the 1970’s, his live-in girlfriend of 6 years, Michelle Triola, brought an action against him alleging that she and Lee Marvin entered into an oral agreement that during the time they lived together that they would combine their efforts and earnings and share equally the property accumulated through their individual or combined efforts, and that Michelle would be his companion, housemaker, housekeeper and cook, give up her career as an entertainer and singer, and that Lee Marvin agreed he would provide for all her financial support for the rest of her life.
After a couple of appeals, the court agreed with Michelle Triola. Lee Marvin had to pay her $104,000, which was quite a bit of money back in the 1970’s. Worse still, you can imagine what he probably paid in attorneys fees to defend these claims. But that’s only half the story: Michelle Triola Marvin also had an attorney who needed to be paid, too. Taken in this perspective, a premarital agreement or cohabitation agreement is a cost-effective way to handle this type of situation.
Conclusion: The truth is that a carefully crafted premarital or prenuptial agreement can cement your relationship, prompt you to have the hard discussions that engaged couples need to have, and insure that your finances are handled the way you each intend in the event you were to divorce or pass away prematurely.