What are spousal agreements and how do they work?
Spousal Agreements are a productive way for parties to agree upon matters before, during, or after marriage.
In other words, it is a legally binding and enforceable contract two individuals sign to avoid conflicts during a separation or divorce.
What types of things are typically included in a spousal agreement?
There are a number of things commonly found in spousal agreements but there are also things that may be specific to your marriage like a family ring, business ownership, or even an individual trademark.
Some of the more common things included in a spousal agreement include:
- Equitable distribution
- Property distribution
- Post-separation support and alimony
- Child custody
- Child support
By memorializing these things in a legally binding and enforceable document, many of the issues will not have to be battled out in court in front of a judge.
In a tumultuous situation, Spousal Agreements keep the decision making control between the parties and often allows for a more amicable end result.
Why would a couple need to sign a spousal agreement?
Many times, people associate spousal or prenuptial agreements with a lack of trust and may even be offended if their spouse asks them to sign.
While we understand the hesitancy to start or continue a marriage when an individual asks you to sign a legal document outlining what will happen if a marriage ends, we also ask you think about the situation logically.
Many times, spousal agreements are simply put in place for a “what if” scenario. If one or both parties are busy individuals or travel frequently, finding time to dispute and distribute certain assets may be difficult.
Another scenario is if one party makes or has ownership of significantly more money, property, or other assets. We have all heard of the marriages that end after just a short period of time and at the very least appear to be a relationship built on money instead of love.
Other reasons why couples may sign a spousal agreement include:
- One person makes or has significantly more money or personal assets
- Both parties have verbally agreed to separate and have come to an agreement upon how assets will be divided
- Certain assets have more physical or emotional value to an individual
- One individual owns or has ownership in a business
What is the difference between a prenuptial agreement and a spousal agreement?
Most people are familiar with the term “Prenuptial Agreement” (also known as Prenups or Premarital Agreements), and your understanding of the term may sound like it is identical to a spousal agreement.
The word prenuptial literally means “occurring before marriage”, so when a prenuptial agreement is signed, it is always signed before two individuals get married. Like a spousal agreement, a prenuptial agreement can be modified before, during, or after marriage.
A spousal agreement is essentially the same thing as a prenuptial agreement, however, if you were to create an agreement before the marriage takes place, it would not be called a prenuptial agreement.
What are North Carolina’s laws regarding Spousal and Prenuptial Agreements?
Like every contract, the agreement must be signed by both parties for it to be legally binding. North Carolina requires both parties to sign the spousal agreement for it to be valid.
North Carolina’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act is a statute that governs how prenuptial/spousal agreements are handled in the state.
The Act states that prenuptial agreements becomes valid upon marriage and must be signed by both parties.
What can be covered in a prenuptial agreement in North Carolina?
Some of the things that can be covered in a prenuptial agreement in NC include:
- Rights to property and financial income
- Rights to buy, sell, trade, or manage properties
- Rights to make a will, trust, or other arrangement
- Ownership rights to a life insurance policy
- Alimony and spousal support
- And “Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty“
Child support and child rights can NOT be, in any way, adversely affected by a premarital agreement in North Carolina.
Do I have to hire an attorney for a prenuptial or spousal agreement in North Carolina
You are not required by law to have an attorney draft or certify a prenuptial or spousal agreement in the State of North Carolina.
However, divorce attorneys with experience in property distribution, alimony, and other family law matters will be able to help make sure you are completely covered. If something is worded incorrectly or you do not understand parts of the document, it could cause a lot of trouble down the road.
Finding the best spousal agreement attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina
Waple & Houk’s Charlotte, North Carolina divorce attorneys are very versed in the governing law of such Spousal Agreements, requisites for the validity of the agreements, and enforceability of the agreements.
We work with you throughout the entire process from negotiating on your behalf to document drafting to the signing of the Agreement.