Virginia Prenuptial Agreement: The Essential Information Worth Exploring
Many people believe that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy individuals. But prenups also help middle and low-income earners distinguish between marital and separate property. They also provide an alternative for couples to seal the fate of assets if a marriage ends.
Different states have different regulations governing the execution and regulation of premarital laws. In Virginia, for example, premarital contracts are legally binding and remain enforceable provided they follow the outlined conditions. Read on to understand how prenups work in Virginia.
Prenuptial Agreement in Virginia
Virginia adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act in 1985, and it has since been in operation. The revised code under sections 20-147 to sections 20-155 spells the requirements of a legally enforceable prenuptial agreement.
Furthermore, the code defines a prenuptial agreement as a contract that future spouses sign while contemplating marriage. The agreement outlines how they will share their assets if they wish to divorce, separate, or death occurs.
Why Do Couples Enter Premarital Contracts?
Couples in Virginia may enter a prenuptial contract for many reasons. Here are the most common:
Securing Separate Property
Some future spouses may have significant property acquired from family assets. It is, therefore, essential to sign a prenup to secure the property from financial obligation in the future. Similarly, if one of the spouses has significant assets from business enterprises or other investments, they may want to retain the proceeds as separate property through a prenuptial contract.
Distinguishing Marital and Separate Property
Sometimes, a spouse may come into the marriage with significant property obtained before marriage. In addition, both spouses may work together to acquire other assets jointly as a couple. A prenuptial agreement comes in handy to distinguish between marital and separate property.
Eliminating Spousal Support
During a divorce, either couple may ask for spousal support from a financially independent couple. Couples may use a prenuptial agreement to determine the duration and amount of alimony support. Sometimes, future spouses may also decide to eliminate the alimony clause.
Elements of a Valid Prenuptial Agreement
As previously highlighted, Virginia’s revised codes contain guidelines on enforcing a prenuptial agreement. Below are elements that constitute a valid prenup.
Under section 20-149, both parties should write and sign a prenuptial agreement. In addition, you should include the current date of signing the document to make it valid. Unlike other states, you don't need to notarize a premarital contract in Virginia.
A valid agreement should be reasonably fair to both spouses and not infringe on the rights of either spouse. Similarly, a premarital contract should not yield an unfair outcome to either spouse, such as eliminating alimony from a spouse who depends on the state’s financial assistance.
Like other states, a prenuptial agreement in Virginia should be voluntarily signed and entered by the spouses. There should be no evidence of a spouse being coerced or manipulated to sign the contract.
Parties to a prenuptial contract should disclose their financial information, including assets and liabilities. If either spouse doesn't reveal the required information fully, an accompanying waiver should exempt the spouse from full disclosure.
Can a Prenup Determine Child Custody, Support, and Alimony?
Like in other states, prenuptial contracts in Virginia cannot limit or influence the right of a child to obtain support. Thus, the courts will award fair and reasonable support to a child regardless of the parents’ agreements.
Similarly, parents can’t decide who to have custody of the child if parents divorce. Instead, qualified judges will evaluate the case and determine a child’s best interests to secure custody.
The law, however, allows future spouses to decide alimony in their prenuptial agreements. Therefore, spouses can determine the amount and duration of spousal support to a deserving partner.
Download a general prenuptial agreement form from our site.