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

What types of Family Violence Protection Orders are available in Georgia?

In Georgia, there are two types of Family Violence Protection Orders:

  • Temporary Ex Parte Orders
  • Family Violence Protection Orders

A Temporary Ex Parte Order is designed to protect you until the court hearing you must have for a Family Violence Protection Order. You can receive a temporary order without a court hearing, and without your abuser’s knowledge. ("Ex parte" means without your abuser present).

A judge will grant the temporary order only if she or he believes that you are in immediate danger. Temporary orders last up to 30 days, or until your court hearing if it is being heard in another county in the same circuit. They can be extended beyond 30 days by agreement with both parties. This is called a consent order.

A Family Violence Protection Order can be issued after a court hearing in which you and the abuser both have a chance to tell your sides of the story. Family Violence Protection Orders last up to one year, but can be extended for up to three years, or permanently.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org

What is the legal definition in Georgia of family violence?

In general, if a family or household member hurts you or tries to hurt you (with or without using a weapon) or gives you reason to believe that they are going to hurt you in the near future, that person has committed an act of family violence. For the purposes of getting a protective order, you must have a specific relationship with your abuser.

This type of behavior is illegal, and there are laws to protect you.

"Family violence" includes:

  • Rape
  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping
  • Stalking
  • Criminal damage to property
  • Restraint against your will
  • Criminal trespass
  • Unwanted touching, forcing you to take part in sexual acts against your will
  • Threats of violence
  • Other felonies

Family violence does not include "reasonable discipline" by a parent to a child in corporal punishment, restraint or detention.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org

Family Violence in Georgia: A quick overview of the legal system

The legal system is divided into two areas: civil law and criminal law. Superior courts and State courts usually administrate these two areas of the law in different court sessions.

Civil law covers disputes between two people. In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to protect you from the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to punish that person for committing a crime. The protective orders discussed on this page are handled in civil court.

The criminal law system handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. A criminal complaint involves charging your abuser with a crime. If criminal charges are filed, the case will be in the hands of the prosecutor.

You may want to pursue both civil and criminal action against your abuser.

SOURCE: WomensLaw.org

Premarital Agreements FAQ’s

1) WHAT IS A PRE-MARITAL AGREEMENT?
A pre-marital agreement may be entered into by competent adults who are legally able to marry. The purpose of such an agreement is to avoid the usual legal consequences of joining the estates of two parties by marriage. Many people have an established estate, and/or established responsibilities to prior family, which they would like to see protected from the new spouse and new obligations. This can only be done by the consent of both parties to the marriage, and with full knowledge of each other’s financial situation.

2) WILL IT HOLD UP IN COURT?
It is important to understand that the enforceability of the agreement is the most important concern, and sometimes compromises must be made to ensure enforceability. An agreement that was made without full disclosure, or entered into without proper legal advice, or under duress, will probably not hold up in court. You must be aware that such a document will almost always be scrutinized by a court at the time it is enforced to determine if it was fair at the time it was signed, whether the parties understood what they were signing, and had proper legal advice.

3) WHEN SHOULD YOU MAKE A PRE-MARITAL AGREEMENT?
To avoid the appearance of duress, the agreement should be done as far in advance of the wedding date as possible, and before expensive preparations are made. Both sides should have independent legal counsel to advise them. Remember, this is basically a divorce settlement entered into before marriage, and, if done properly, could serve as the basis of an uncontested divorce if the marriage ends, thus avoiding a costly legal battle over these issues.

4) CAN A MARITAL AGREEMENT BE DONE AFTER THE WEDDING?
A Marital Agreement can be made after the wedding whenever differences arise between the parties regarding the future financial issues. The Agreement must be based upon some consideration other than the marriage itself. Sometimes such an Agreement is made as part of a reconciliation of the parties or following some other dispute. Such an Agreement has been held to be just as enforceable as a Premarital Agreement.

SOURCE: DivorceNet