Georgia Prenuptial Agreement FAQ

What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by two people who are to be married. The purpose of a Prenuptial Agreement is to set forth certain rights for each party in the event of a divorce. Sometimes provisions for property distribution upon death are included, but such provisions are better placed in a Last Will and Testament.

Why do people get prenuptial agreements?
The most common reason for a Prenuptial Agreement is to protect property that one or both parties owned before the marriage from becoming divided upon divorce.

What is an "antenuptial agreement" or a "premarital agreement"?
These are all synonyms for a Prenuptial Agreement. They all refer to the same concept, the same type of document.

Can I sign a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement after I get married?
Yes. It would be called a "Post-Nuptial Agreement" and Georgia law does currently recognize such documents.

Does everyone getting married need a Prenuptial Agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are not for everyone. Prenuptial Agreements are generally utilized by parties who have considerable assets prior to the marriage and want to keep those assets separate or those who have been through a divorce and want to minimize the cost and time if they unfortunately go through another divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, it is possible in certain circumstances for separate or premarital property to lose its separate quality and it can then become marital property or can be used to pay alimony.

Can a Prenuptial Agreement cover alimony?
Sometimes, Prenuptial Agreements are used to limit, establish or eliminate alimony in the event of a divorce.

Can a Prenuptial Agreement affect child custody or child support?
Generally speaking, Prenuptial Agreements do not deal with child custody or child support. Judges make the final decision on custody, and parties cannot pre-determine child support because the law regards child support as being a right for a child, and parties cannot override that right. Custody also must be determined AT THE TIME OF THE DISPUTE since no one can predict all the circumstances which will exist at the time of a custody dispute.

I already have a house and property and I want to protect it. Will a Prenuptial Agreement help?
Yes. If you own property before the marriage and you want to protect that property in the event of divorce, a well drafted and enforceable Prenuptial Agreement can make it easier for you to keep that property in the event of a divorce.

Do I need my own lawyer if my fiancé’s attorney prepared a Prenuptial Agreement?
Yes. It is important to have your own counsel explain fully the proposed Agreement and the potential pitfalls that could affect you in the event of a divorce. Your attorney can suggest changes to the proposed Agreement that can dramatically affect to your benefit what happens in the event of a divorce.

Does my fiancé need their own lawyer if my attorney prepares a Prenuptial Agreement?
Yes. Not only does it make it more fair (each side has independent advice), it also makes it more enforceable since neither can later argue that they did not understand what they were signing.

Even if my spouse and I have a Prenuptial Agreement, can we change the terms later?
Yes. You can "re-up the Prenup" by having your attorney prepare an addendum to the original Agreement. After that has been properly signed and witnessed, it becomes a part of the original Agreement and will reflect the new terms you have changed.

What if my spouse and I decide, after years of marriage, that we no longer want to have the Prenuptial Agreement in effect?
Most well-written Prenuptial Agreements will contain a provision that dictates exactly how to cancel the Prenuptial Agreement so that it is no longer in effect. Further, your attorney can build in Asunset@ provisions to the original Prenuptial Agreement that provide for its automatic cancellation after an agreed-upon amount of years.

Will a Prenuptial Agreement determine how my spouse’s property is distributed after his/her death?
Not unless you insist on such a provision. It is strongly recommended that you each have a Last Will and Testament to cover what happens to property upon the death of a spouse. Generally, a good Prenuptial Agreement will contain language that says that either of you are free to give or will away any property you want to the other party.

Are Prenuptial Agreements expensive?
As is in most cases, the cost is based on how long it takes your attorney to prepare the Agreement. Prenuptial Agreements take a lot of time to prepare since they are an attempt to resolve disputes which have not yet occurred and which are based upon factors which do not yet exist (changes in income, assets, the birth of children, etc.) In some limited cases, Prenuptial Agreements can be prepared on a flat fee basis. See your attorney for more complete fee and cost information.

SOURCE: DivorceNet

SOURCE FOR POST: Georgia Family Law Blog

Divorce Manual: SELECTING A DIVORCE LAWYER

A. Introduction

Selecting a lawyer to represent you in your divorce is more than just picking a name; it means establishing a close and sensitive relationship that will continue for months and perhaps years. It is important to find and hire the person who is right for you and your case.

B. Getting Names of Lawyers

1. From other professionals

Lawyers, accountants, psychotherapists, members of the clergy and other professionals meet and work with divorce lawyers in the course of their work and are often a good source of referrals. Ask them for the names of family law specialists with good credentials and reputations and whose qualifications are most appropriate to your case. Lawyers, in particular, are aware of the reputations of other lawyers, even those outside their specialty, so a lawyer you already know and trust can be an exceptionally good referral source. If you need a divorce lawyer outside your geographical area, divorce lawyers in your area often know who the best people are in other regions.

2. From organizations

Your state bar may have a process for certifying family law specialists and may give you names. While certification is no absolute assurance of quality, it usually requires a certain proven level of experience, study, and interest in the field. Certified specialists have usually passed an examination in this area of the law. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers is an organization with a rigorous screening procedure which admits only qualified specialists.

The American Bar Association and most local bar associations have family law sections. Although any lawyer can join these sections with no screening or testing, lawyers who belong may have a higher level of interest and involvement in the field of family law than those who don’t.

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Georgia Divorce Laws

Title 19 Domestic Relations

Chapter 5 Divorce

19-5-1. Total divorces authorized; how tried; referral for alternative dispute resolution.

(a) Total divorces may be granted in proper cases by the superior court. Unless an issuable defense is filed as provided by law and a jury trial is demanded in writing by either party on or before the call of the case for trial, in all petitions for divorce and permanent alimony the judge shall hear and determine all issues of law and of fact and any other issues raised in the pleadings.

(b) In any county in which there has been established an alternative dispute resolution program pursuant to Chapter 23 of Title 15, known as the "Georgia Court-annexed Alternative Dispute Resolution Act," the judge may, prior to trial, refer all contested petitions for divorce or permanent alimony to the appropriate alternative dispute resolution method. In counties in which an alternative dispute resolution program has not been established, a judge may nonetheless refer any disputed divorce case to an appropriate alternative dispute resolution method if a method is reasonably available without additional cost to the parties.

19-5-2. Residence requirements; venue.

No court shall grant a divorce to any person who has not been a bona fide resident of this state for six months before the filing of the petition for divorce, provided that any person who has been a resident of any United States army post or military reservation within this state for one year next preceding the filing of the petition may bring an action for divorce in any county adjacent to the United States army post or military reservation; and provided, further, that a nonresident of this state may file a petition for divorce, in the county of residence of the respondent, against any person who has been a resident of this state and of the county in which the action is brought for a period of six months prior to the filing of the petition.

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Wills: A Fact Sheet

What is a Will?

A will is a document that you use to say what you want to have happen to your property after you die. A person making a will is called a "testator."

What happens if I die without a will?

If you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to Georgia’s intestate law. "Intestate" is when a person dies without a will. If you die without a will, then your property will be distributed to your spouse and your children. They will inherit equally, although your spouse will inherit at least 1/3 of your estate, no matter how many children you have.. If one of your children dies before you do, then his or her children will inherit his or her share equally. If you do not have a spouse or children, your parents will inherit and if your parents die before you do, then your brothers and sisters will inherit equally. If one of them dies before you do, then his or her children will inherit his or her share equally.

What property can I give away in my will?

You can use your will to say how you want any property that you own to be divided. This includes real property or land and personal property such as furniture, clothing, dishes, pictures and jewelry.

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GEORGIA PROBATE PROCEEDINGS : WHEN THERE IS NO WILL

When a person dies in Georgia without a will, their estate goes through probae under the laws of intestacy. Essentially, this is a "one size fits all" statutory substittue for a will.

There is a cost set by law for the filing of every new probate proceeding, as well as for most pleadings filed after the initial filing, including objections, caveats and claims. There is a minimum deposit toward costs required for every new proceeding which must be paid in advance. Unless otherwise ordered or directed by the court, costs are the responsibility of the person filing the original proceeding, and full payment of any balance due may be required prior to issuance of a final order. A party filing an objection or caveat to a pending proceeding or a creditor filing a claim must pay the fee for the filing of same before the court is required to accept it for filing.

Court costs are considered an expense of administration under law, having a priority over other debts and claims, and must be paid by the personal representative of the estate prior to the payment of other debts and prior to distribution to heirs or beneficiaries. The failure or refusal to pay court costs may result in the dismissal of proceedings, the removal of the personal representative or other actions by the court to assure and receive payment.

SOURCE: Judicial Branch of Georgia

If a family member or loved one has died in metro Atlanta or Marietta, Georgia, and you need assistance in probating and settling their estate, the Marietta GA probate lawyer and attorney Steve Worrall can assist you. Call us at 770-425-6060.