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Understanding North Carolina law for premarital agreements

by | Nov 14, 2022 | Premarital Agreements

Getting married is an exciting time for North Carolina couples. With the prospect of a new life together, the thrill of having a large gathering to celebrate the marriage and the hopes that it will be a long and happy union, it is easy to forget that many marriages end in divorce. For some, divorce can be costly in myriad ways.

For example, if it is a young couple that are starting careers with one or both having large inheritances coming their way or who come from a well-off family, they might be thinking about the long-term problems that can accompany a divorce. To address these fears, a premarital agreement might be the way to go.

Although some might be reluctant to broach the subject, it is imperative to put aside these fears and be prudent. Part of that is knowing state laws, the details of a premarital agreement, when it is valid, when it can be updated and how to avoid common problems with the document.

What must be done to make sure the premarital agreement is valid?

A problem with premarital agreements and their validity is that there are common missteps that a person can make that will make it unenforceable and lead to litigation that they were trying to avoid. If the person who signed the agreement did not do so voluntarily, it can be nullified. It can also be nullified if it is found to have been unfair when it was executed. For example, if a person is entering the marriage unaware of the other party’s debts or assets, then this could be deemed a lack of fairness and call the agreement into question.

There must be a full disclosure of all the information – property, debt, assets and more – before the agreement will be valid. Of course, the person could waive that right, but that must be done in writing and it is not advisable when signing a premarital agreement. The agreement cannot modify or eliminate spousal support leading to one party needing to receive public assistance after the divorce. The agreement can be amended only if both sides agree to it in writing. It goes in effect when the couple is legally married.

Considering a premarital agreement will require caring professional advice

Even those who are worried about how their prospective spouse will react to the idea of a premarital agreement should know the negative consequences of not having one. Often, the process can be relatively smooth and it is a protective device to shield both sides in case the marriage does not work out.

No matter the reason, it is wise to contact professionals who are fully versed in family law and know the ins and outs of premarital agreements. This is crucial to ensure the document follows the law, is unlikely to be successfully challenged and the person and their property are protected. Calling is a good step from the outset.