Spring is here and summer is around the corner; both popular seasons for weddings in Virginia. Many soon-to-be spouses are busy making their wedding plans. But, while they may be engrossed in planning for their big day, they should also be making plans for the fact that they will be sharing their lives together from there on out. Engaged couples assume they will be together forever, but, realistically, not every marriage will last. Some marriages will end in divorce.
In fact, some couples will take the step of discussing their financial future together, including the possibility of divorce, before walking down the aisle. These couples may choose to execute a formal agreement cementing these conversations. This agreement is called a premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup”. Premarital agreements do not just have to be about divorce. Premarital agreements can address issues such as wills, life insurance and anything that isn’t illegal or in violation of public policy. However, in essence, premarital agreements address financial matters between the couple.
Virginia Code addresses what can and cannot be included in a premarital agreement. Premarital agreements can delineate the rights and obligations each party has with regards to any assets belonging to either party or shared by them, no matter where or when the asset was acquired or where the location of the asset is. Premarital agreements can also address each party’s rights with regards to the disposition, management or control of any particular asset. Parties can address the issue of spousal support in a premarital agreement. And, as many people may already know, a premarital agreement can state who retains what assets should the marriage end in divorce.
So, while a soon-to-be wed couple may have a lot on their plate when it comes to wedding planning, it makes sense to plan for their financial future as well. A premarital agreement can serve a couple well, even if they never divorce. And, should they divorce, it can help streamline issues such as property division and spousal support — two issues that, without an agreement in place, have the potential to be hotly contested. Starting a marriage out with financial honesty and agreed-upon expectations can be a good thing for couples, and could form the foundation for a strong union.