Prenuptial Agreements / Premarital Agreements in Raleigh, North Carlolina
Prenuptial agreements have become more common in Raleigh, North Carolina. The increasing use of premarital agreements is likely related to the statistics portrayed at The Department of Health and Human Services which claim that 15 percent of remarriages end after 3 years, another 25 percent end after 5 years. The number of remarriages that include children from a previous marriage also lends to the use of prenuptial agreements as the parents attempt to protect the rights and future assets of their children.
Premarital agreements are designed to clarify the rights of those intending to marry, in the event of a future divorce. Parties may use an agreement which claims that certain property shall remain separate, which would otherwise become marital property. Such an agreement protects the specified assets, in the event of a divorce, from equitable distribution claims. An agreement of this type is frequently used in cases where one party owns a business, or has significant property prior to the marriage. Especially where the marriage is a second marriage for one or both spouses, and there are children from one, or both previous marriages, the spouses may wish to retain the freedom to leave his or her estate to the children, rather than to the new spouse.
In North Carolina, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act was adopted in 1987. Under the Premarital Agreement Act, parties are able to include property rights, limited alimony rights, and a number of other topics with respect to the requests of the spouses. Since some of the terms of premarital agreements have gone beyond financial specifications, they must be evaluated per case, for violation of public policy. Additionally agreements may include limitations on child support in the event of a divorce, and child custody arrangements to be enforced in case of divorce. Child support and custody claims in premarital agreements tend to be in violation of North Carolina statutes, and are difficult to sustain particularly when they are unreasonably limiting.
In the event of divorce, the enforcement of a premarital agreement may incur defenses related to the manner in which the agreement was implemented. Some common claims: the agreement was not executed voluntarily; the agreement was signed fraudulently, via misrepresentation, or under duress; or the agreement is in violation of public policy. Frequently premarital agreements are signed without legal representation, or at the last minute. Neither the absence of counsel, nor the relative proximity, in time, to the wedding will render the agreement null. It is in the best interest of both parties to exercise full disclosure during the enactment of the agreement, and to employ an attorney to review any agreement that may effect their rights once signed.
If you are entering into a marriage in which a premarital agreement will be filed, or if you are involved in divorce proceedings that include the enforcement of a premarital agreement, you should contact a qualified attorney at (919) 833-1040. The attorneys at Marshall & Taylor PLLC are equipped to interpret agreements to ensure that your rights are preserved.