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Are immigration policies impacting wedding and prenuptial plans?

For most couples, an upcoming wedding is a major life event that  involves months of planning. However, recent changes in immigration policy may be having an unintended impact on this tradition.

According to a recent article, the new administration’s immigration policies may be fueling an observable increase in hastily executed weddings. Some commentators suspect that immigrants have accelerated their relationship plans, seeking permanent residency status by marrying an American citizen. Even immigrants with valid visas may have new fears of being detained when reentering the country.

Hasty wedding plans may also explain why a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found an increase in the number of prenuptial agreements. These premarital contracts offer peace of mind to couple that may not have the time to plan for the long-term financial implications of marriage.

In a nutshell, a prenuptial agreement represents an agreement between two spouses to keep their finances separate. That includes not only previously owned assets, but also any debts or other financial obligations. As with any contract, it is advisable to consult with an attorney. A prenuptial agreement will not be legally valid or enforceable if it was never properly executed.

To be valid, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and consented to after thorough consideration. If any of the parties were pressured into signing the agreement, even for a reason such as lack of time to read the provisions, a court might later rule that the agreement is invalid.

A prenuptial agreement must also contain complete and true information, and many courts will also look to basic rules of fairness and compliance with other laws. For example, a contract that is grossly unfair might be deemed invalid as an unconscionable contract. Similarly, prenuptial agreements cannot usurp existing laws, such as child support obligations.

Our Virginia family law firm has helped many couples execute prenuptial agreements. We have experience not only starting this discussion, but helping couple navigate common errors.

Source: Boston Globe, “Immigration fears lead to sped-up weddings — and prenups,” Katie Johnson, April 2, 2017

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