Premarital Agreements

Premarital Agreements

Family Law Attorney in Northern Virginia

At ShounBach you will benefit from the experience of a team of lawyers who collectively have years of practice in the area of family law. When you contact the firm to schedule an appointment with an attorney, a Northern Virginia family law attorney will personally meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your situation. As the largest law firm dedicated to family law in Northern Virginia, our attorneys have been recognized by numerous publications and our peers for their capability, and we are proud to boast an acclaimed AV-rating® from Martindale-Hubbell® and U.S News and World Report.

Over the years, the average age of people getting married has changed. As a result, couples today are older and more established in their career and have more assets than in the past. Sadly many marriages fail. Although discussing and negotiating a premarital agreement may not be comfortable or romantic, it may be less awkward and stressful to do at the outset of marriage, rather than at the time you and your spouse are separating or upon death of a spouse. The smart approach to crafting a premarital agreement designed to successfully protect your interests in the event things fall apart will be our top priority when you seek the services provided by the team at our firm.

Establishing a Premarital Agreement in Northern Virginia

Virginia's Premarital Agreement Act defines a premarital agreement as an "agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage." A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both prospective spouses. No consideration or legal value must be exchanged for a premarital agreement to be enforceable.

However, if the person against whom enforcement is sought proves that he or she did not sign the agreement voluntarily or, that the agreement was unconscionable at the time when it was signed and he or she did not receive a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property and financial obligations of the other party and did not waive, in righting, his or her right to disclosure of the property and financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided, the premarital agreement may not be enforceable.

Premarital agreements may address the following issues:

  • The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them;
  • The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
  • The disposition of property upon separation, divorce, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
  • Spousal support;
  • The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
  • The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
  • The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
  • Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

Provided that required formalities are met, premarital agreements document the parties' intentions concerning classification and disposition of property and incomes currently in existence and those that will accumulate during the course of the marriage. A premarital agreement resolves the matters addressed in the agreement in advance of a decision to separate or divorce or upon death of a spouse. A common euphemism is that "timing is everything." This is particularly true concerning negotiation and execution of premarital agreements. The further in advance of a wedding a premarital agreement is signed, the better. Also, the stress related to disposition of property and incomes in conjunction with separation, divorce or death is, in large part, alleviated by discussing and resolving these matters prior to a couple marrying when the relationship is stable and secure.

At ShounBach we educate our clients concerning matters that may be addressed in a premarital agreement and different options for resolving each matter. Together, we help our clients navigate the process of crafting a premarital agreement that best protects the client's interests in advance of their special day. Our attorneys have successfully negotiated and drafted hundreds of premarital agreements over the years.

Contact a Northern Virginia divorce attorney at our office to learn more about establishing a premarital agreement before taking your vows.