Chester County Premarital Agreement Attorney
Protecting Your Financial Future After Marriage
When you enter into a marriage, your focus is often on how you and your partner will come together to form a single family. While there is much joy in this act, it can also cause anxiety when you factor in your and your future spouse’s finances. As much as most couples do not like to think about it, the process of merging finances, assets, properties, and debts can all complicate your future relationship. If you are among the 50% of American marriages that do end in divorce, you may end up in the difficult and bitter situation of having to divide all of your complex assets.
However, if you and your spouse draft a premarital agreement, sometimes referred to as a prenuptial agreement, then you may be able to bypass many of these problems. A premarital agreement can simplify your divorce proceedings so that both of you do not have to go through the long and painful process of dividing your household.
Premarital agreements can become extremely complex if either partner has a large amount of property or debt prior to marriage, which is why you should discuss the agreement with a knowledgeable Chester County premarital agreement attorney before signing any document. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., we can help you draft a thorough agreement that will be valid in a Pennsylvania courtroom. In addition, if you feel that a premarital agreement is unfair, we can advocate for your rights in a divorce. To discuss your case in detail, reach out to our law firm at (610) 645-0100 and speak to an understanding and compassionate legal team.
What Is a Premarital Agreement?
Premarital agreements, otherwise known as prenuptial or antenuptial agreements, are legally binding contracts signed by couples before marriage that outline who is responsible for certain assets, property, and debt. The agreements last for the duration of the marriage and, if the couple gets divorced or one member dies, then the agreement will outline how assets should be divided.
Premarital agreements allow couples to marry without the fear of costly and difficult divorce proceedings. For example, if one spouse started a business prior to marriage, he may be able to protect it from being divided in the event of a divorce. This can also protect the other spouse from having to deal with debt associated with the business. Alternatively, if the other spouse has a child from a previous relationship, she can also protect that child’s inheritance from divorce court proceedings.
These contracts are not limited to wealthy couples. There is no financial barrier stopping a couple from signing a premarital agreement, and it can even benefit you if you do not have a large number of assets or property. The agreement may address other aspects of a divorce, including who may receive alimony, as well as what happens to any future property you and your spouse purchase during your marriage: houses, vehicles, furniture, and even certifications. By signing a premarital agreement, you may be able to secure your financial future.
Do Pennsylvania Courts Respect Premarital Agreements?
It is important to note that there are limits on what can be included in a premarital agreement. As these agreements are based on how property is divided at the time of a divorce, they cannot include spousal support, which is paid out between separation and divorce. In addition, a couple cannot include matters related to any children unless they were from a previous relationship.
For example, you cannot assign who receives custody or visitation in a premarital agreement or who has to pay child support. However, if you have an amicable divorce, you and your ex-spouse can come to an agreement regarding child custody and support without having to deal with a contentious court battle. Instead, a judge may agree with your custody plan and approve it without conflict.
Generally speaking, Pennsylvania courts will respect a premarital agreement so long as the contract is fair and reasonable. If the court determines that the agreement will leave one member destitute after a divorce, they require a more in-depth look at your marital assets to determine if alimony is necessary or if your property should be divided in a different manner. It is important to review your agreement with a lawyer before signing it to ensure that it will hold up in a court of law.
Can I Challenge a Premarital Agreement?
In order for a premarital agreement to be valid in the state of Pennsylvania, it must be legally considered:
- Fair and reasonable under the law; and
- Signed and notarized willingly by both parties.
Fair and reasonable is a broad concept, but with regard to premarital agreements, it means that both parties fully disclosed all financial assets, debts, and property in the agreement and did not use coercion or fraud when drafting the agreement. In addition, if one member was forced to sign the agreement while under duress, lies, manipulation, intoxication, or threats of violence or harm, then the agreement would not be valid.
If you feel that you received unfair treatment in a prenup and wish to challenge it in court, contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., as soon as possible. With over 25 years of experience, our legal team can review your agreement and determine if it is valid. We can also represent you to have the agreement struck down and ensure that you receive a fair share of your marital property in a divorce.
How a Chester County Family Law Attorney Can Help You
Getting married is meant to a joyful process, but it can also be extremely stressful and complicated. Beyond planning your wedding, you have to make important decisions about your property, your financial future, and the possibility that you could get divorced. But with a detailed and valid premarital agreement in your hands, you can weather any storm with the best legal guidance.
If you and your spouse need assistance drafting a premarital agreement, reach out to the Chester County family law attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our lead attorney can review all of your assets, property, and debt to draft a thorough agreement that protects you and your spouse in the event of a divorce. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office at (610) 645-0100.