While most soon-to-be wed couples in North Carolina picture nothing but happily ever after, the fact of the matter is that a significant number of marriages will end in divorce. One way to plan ahead for this possibility is to execute a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying.
Prenups, also referred to as premarital agreements, can cover a variety of issues, mostly financial. Property division can be addressed in a prenup. North Carolina is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that in the event of a divorce all marital property and debts will be divided based on a concept of fairness even if this means it is not an exact 50/50 split. A prenup can indicate which assets and debts are to be considered separate assets and debts not included in the marital estate, and thus will not be subject to property division should the marriage not last.
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, can also be addressed in a prenup. For example, in a prenup a couple can put a limit on how much will be paid in alimony or it may even say alimony is off the table entirely. Whether one spouse earns a great deal more than the other or whether one spouse agrees to stay out of the workforce while married to take care of the family are factors that couples may consider when executing a prenup.
Other financial issues can be included in a prenup. A prenup can address inheritance rights. This is especially important if it is a second or subsequent marriage and there are children from a previous marriage. A prenup can also include provisions on the division of retirement accounts.
What cannot be included in a prenup?
It is important to note that not all issues can be addressed in a prenup. While child custody can be included in a prenup, ultimately courts will have to consider what is in the best interests of the child when making custody decisions. Child support is also off-limits in a prenup. Basically, anything affecting a child’s rights cannot be altered in a prenup.
Prenups are a great tool for soon-to-be wed couples who have significant assets or debts going into a divorce. Prenups are also handy if one partner earns a great deal more than the other partner. A prenup may not be romantic, but it definitely helps couples make the divorce process run smoothly should it come to that.