Prenuptial agreements can often be a source of contention for newly engaged couples. While one spouse may see prenups as a practical way to protect oneself from the possibility of divorce, the other spouse may see them as unnecessary and unromantic. The reality is that while no one expects to get divorced when they first begin their lives together, it can happen to any couple, no matter how strong. A prenuptial agreement can save both you and your spouse a lot of stress and heartache if the time ever comes for you to go your separate ways.
Validity and enforceability of prenups in Washington
Because Washington is a community property state, all marital property (property acquired during the marriage) will be distributed equally between you and your spouse. However, if you have a prenuptial agreement in place, courts can enforce it, if you can show that it is valid and enforceable. Courts will consider whether the prenup is fair and whether it was knowingly and voluntarily entered into, before deciding whether to enforce it. Failing to fully disclose assets, failing to meet validity criteria, or making an agreement that is unreasonably unfair to one spouse are all reasons for the court to void your agreement.
What is included in a prenup?
Generally, a prenup addresses property rights for each spouse if the marriage ends. The following issues should be addressed in your prenup:
- Individual assets and debts: Address each asset you owned prior to the marriage and determine whether it will now be considered a joint asset or remain separate.
- Joint assets and debts: Address marital assets and debts you will likely acquire during your marriage and determine how they will be distributed if you divorce.
- Financial responsibilities: Address how you and your spouse will split financial responsibilities (e.g., who will file the taxes, how to handle bank accounts/investments, etc.)
- Business ownership: If you own a business, address how your business affairs will be managed if you divorce.
- Children from prior marriages: Address if and how you will pass separate property to your children from a previous marriage.
With the divorce rate is nearly 50 percent in the United States, it is important that couples keep an open mind and prepare for the possibility that their marriage will not last forever. A family law attorney can help draft a prenuptial agreement that works for both of you.