Following the Supreme Court decision declaring that state laws banning same-sex marriages were unconstitutional, many couples in Virginia and across the nation have married or are planning to marry. Same-sex couples may have spent years together accumulating substantial assets. When they decide to marry, protecting their interests in case of a subsequent divorce is important.
Pre-marital agreements can be used to define the rights of each spouse to assets. Even when a couple has cohabited for years, they do not enjoy the same property division rights they would if they had been married. Prenuptial agreements allow people who plan to marry to outline equitable divisions of the assets that they have accumulated.
People can also use prenuptial agreements to define what property will remain separate and not subject to division if a divorce happens. If one partner earns more than the other, the prenuptial agreement can be used to define the amount of alimony that will be paid in the event the marriage dissolves. People might also use the agreements to waive their rights to alimony. Addressing retirement accounts and other savings vehicles that have accumulated large balances is also important so that both partners can have the peace of mind that they will be able to retire even if the marriage ends.
While most people believe at the outset that their marriages will not end, some unfortunately do end in divorce. Having a prenuptial agreement that clearly outlines the rights of both partners can help to make the divorce process smoother if it does occur. A person who is planning to marry and who has accumulated substantial assets may want to talk to a family law attorney to see about how best to protect them.