Pre-marital agreements, which many also refer to as prenuptial or antenuptial agreements, are contracts that parties sign before they get married. These agreements often set forth ownership of property and debts for each party if they later divorce. Consulting a Chattanooga pre-marital agreements lawyer could prove critical when you are contemplating marriage, or your spouse has asked you to sign a pre-marital agreement.
State law mandates that pre-marital agreements have several characteristics to be legally valid and enforceable in divorce proceedings. Individuals interested in a pre-marital agreement always should seek the advice of a family lawyer. If your soon-to-be spouse is asking you to sign a pre-marital agreement, you also should get independent legal advice on this matter.
The most common subjects in pre-marital agreements are property ownership, responsibility for the repayment of debts, and payment of spousal support. Pre-marital contracts do not contain provisions about children, such as custody, visitation, and child support. Furthermore, if parties attempted to enforce a pre-marital agreement deciding custody rights to children, for instance, the court may invalidate those provisions of the contract.
Possible subjects that pre-marital agreements can address include the following:
Provisions dealing with property ownership could apply to real property and personal property, including homes, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and any other types of property. Pre-marital agreements also have the power to allocate the payment of household expenses during the marriage of the parties, in terms of paying joint mortgage loans, paying for utility bills, and contributing to college fund accounts for children or retirement accounts. A pre-marital agreements lawyer in Chattanooga may be able to advise how to best draft a pre-marital agreement to meet the specific needs of the parties involved.
Tenn. Code § 36-3-501 generally provides that prenuptial and antenuptial agreements are enforceable concerning ownership of property owned by either spouse before their marriage. Courts that have jurisdiction over the parties enforce these agreements if they find that the parties freely, knowledgeably, and without undue influence/duress entered the negotiations.
Furthermore, for pre-marital agreements to be enforceable, individuals must execute the contract in good faith. Therefore, each spouse must fully disclose all debts and property existing at the time they enter the agreement. Failing to disclose or include some property in the contract could result in the invalidation of the pre-marital agreement by the court.
A pre-marital agreement also might be unenforceable if both spouses did not have ample time to consider the agreement and seek independent legal advice before the contract took effect. Therefore, if a prospective spouse produced a pre-marital agreement for the other party to sign only hours before the wedding, a court could invalidate it. If one party wants a prenuptial agreement, a pre-marital agreements attorney in Chattanooga may be able to draft an appropriate agreement and ensure its enforceability.
Although no one wants to consider divorce when you are preparing for marriage, individuals with substantial assets may wish to execute pre-marital agreements to protect their rights if a divorce should occur. These agreements are especially critical for individuals who marry later in life after accruing many assets and for those who have children born of prior relationships. A Chattanooga pre-marital agreements lawyer could assess your situation and help you craft the agreement that is right for you under the circumstances.