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This interactive legal document enables you to generate a Premarital Agreement (sometimes called an "pre-nuptial agreement") that is valid in any state.
The requirements for a premarital agreement are the same as for any contract – it must be executed voluntarily, freely and knowingly. Moreover, laws require the agreement to be in writing. Parties should consult an attorney before signing a prenuptial agreement. Further, a party is required to have a reasonable opportunity to consider the ramifications of the agreement. For instance, an agreement presented to the bride on her wedding day does not give her reasonable time to speak with an attorney and will probably not be enforced.
The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (“UPAA”) is recognized by many states and simplifies the creation and requirements of prenuptial agreements. The Act:
Under the UPAA, a premarital agreement is defined as “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage."
SIDEBAR: The provisions of the UPAA do not apply to cohabitation or post-nuptial agreements.
The UPAA sets out several circumstances that can occur during the process of executing a premarital agreement that can make the agreement invalid and unenforceable against one of the parties. An agreement will be invalid if the agreement:
The UPAA gives a long list of issues which should be addressed in a premarital agreement in order to fully resolve problems that arise when a marriage ends. The parties may agree:
Yes. You will have to weigh the detriment of signing an agreement against the possibility that the marriage may not occur unless you do sign.
TIP: Agreements presented immediately prior to the marriage are generally found to have been signed under duress and are invalidated by the courts.
Yes. Both of you must disclose the value of the assets you own and your income as well as your debts for the agreement to be valid.
TIP: To avoid any confusion as to what assets are covered by the agreement, make a list of all your assets and debts and attach them to the prenuptial agreement as exhibits.
Yes. Your own attorney can walk you through the agreement and explain the consequences of entering into it.
TIP: If the bride, for example, is the one presenting the agreement, she should require her fiancé to consult an attorney. If he does not, he can later argue that he signed the agreement without knowing what it meant.
SIDEBAR: Consultation with an attorney is not a requirement unless required by the law in the state in which the parties live. The prenuptial agreement will be enforced if it is valid even though it was signed without talking to a lawyer.
Yes. Premarital agreements become effective when you marry; cohabitation agreements do not.
You may sign the agreement at any time before you marry. However, a greater amount of time between signing the agreement and the actual wedding tends to show that the agreement was entered into voluntarily after considering the ramifications.
Possibly not. Because you were presented with the prenuptial agreement immediately prior to the wedding, you can argue that you were pressured to sign the agreement and that it is not valid.
No. Laws generally require a prenuptial agreement to be in writing and signed by both of the parties.
Yes. However, a judge will not look favorably on the agreement and may decide that the provision denying support is unconscionable, especially if you have no other means of support.
SIDEBAR: “Unconscionable” means unreasonable or morally unacceptable. Contracts that are found to be unconscionable are not valid and cannot be enforced.
Phased-in support or distribution of property provides that the longer the marriage lasts, the more money or property a spouse is entitled to receive. For instance, if a marriage ends before 1 year, the agreement may not give you a share in any property. As each year passes, your share increases until at 10 years of marriage you get 50% of the property your fiancé owns.
TIP: Phased-in increases can also be based on increases in a spouse’s income, assets or property.
No. Child support payments are based on legal guidelines.
Yes. Your premarital agreement will supersede laws that would normally divide marital property between the spouses. In your case, the agreement will be enforced rather than state law.
Yes. In fact, if circumstances change, the agreement should be modified. For instance, if one of you has suffered a financial setback, the support payments provided for in the agreement may need to be reduced.
Both parties must agree to and sign off on any amendments or modifications to the agreement. For example, one spouse cannot unilaterally decide to decrease the support payments provided for in the agreement. Modifications and amendments to the prenuptial agreement must be in writing to be enforceable.