Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

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Marriage is serious decision in Virginia, but so is divorce. As a result, some couples choose to protect themselves and their assets by signing a prenuptial agreement prior to tying the knot. In fact, according to a 2016 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, family law attorneys have seen a 60% increase in couples choosing to enter into prenuptial agreements since 2013.

A number of factors play into the reasons for wanting a prenuptial agreement, but things like student loans, state laws and the ownership of pets are among some of the more common. For example, some couples sign a prenuptial agreement in order to bypass state laws that require equal distribution of assets in a divorce. Likewise, some people use prenuptial agreements to be reimbursed if one spouse helped the other pay student loans. Finally, according to a New York-based divorce attorney who spoke with Market Watch, some couples even sign prenuptial agreements to decide upon pet visitation rights in the event of a divorce.

Market Watch also contacted a Virginia-based attorney who states that frozen eggs and sperm are becoming a point of negotiation in prenuptial agreements. This is due to advances in reproductive technology and may lead to the need for agreements about who retains ownership of these assets or how they can be used if a divorce occurs. Market Watch points out that embryonic ownership is also an issue when reproductive material has been combined to create life.

It's important to note that, regardless of the reason for wanting a prenuptial agreement, these documents are considered legal contracts and must be treated as such. Many couples who choose to utilize a prenuptial agreement may opt to work with a family law attorney to iron out the details. A family law attorney may be able to provide guidance regarding options for a prenuptial agreement and might draft the document for couples who want to protect their rights

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