Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

How to create a fair prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement or a cohabiting agreement can be a good idea for couples in Virginia who are getting married or moving in together, but it is important that it is put together with input from both individuals. One woman learned this when her boyfriend gave her a cohabiting agreement that stated that if they married, she would not receive any alimony. She also would not receive any financial compensation for the home he had purchased with his mother's help no matter how much money she put into it.

An attorney may start by giving a client a boilerplate contract of this nature that is designed to protect the client's interests as much as possible. The problem with this type of contract is that it may be unfair to the other person. Both people should have legal counsel before anything is signed. This kind of contract could act as a jumping-off point for individuals to discuss their finances and what should happen if there is a divorce.

One option might be to allow the spouse who did not originally purchase the home a certain percentage in equity for each year of the marriage. Another possibility is a sunset clause, which makes the prenup invalid after the marriage has lasted for a certain amount of time.

It is important for couples to understand that prenups could be declared invalid if they are prepared improperly. For example, it is best to create a prenup as far out as possible from the wedding. Otherwise, it could appear that one person was pressured into signing it. Prenups should not address issues related to children, such as child support or child custody. Attorneys may be able to assist in preparing a prenup that is fair to both parties and that will remain legally binding.

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