When most people envision planning their wedding, it does not include signing an agreement that sets forth the terms of the division of property in the event of a divorce – or at least that used to be the case. In fact, the mere mention of signing a pre-nuptial agreement was once the quickest way to threaten the wedding altogether. Pre-nuptial agreements, however, are no longer viewed in such a negative light by spouses-to-be. On the contrary, pre-nuptial agreements are now regularly entered into by couples for a variety of reasons. If you are planning to get married in the near future, you may wish to consider entering into one yourself. To help you decide if one is right for you and your situation, a Smyrna divorce lawyer explains Tennessee pre-nuptial agreements.
What Is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
Also referred to as a pre-marital agreement or an antenuptial agreement, a pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement entered by the parties in contemplation of marriage. The purpose of the agreement is to settle issues that are typically involved in a divorce, such as the division of marital assets and the payment of alimony, prior to the marriage.
Why Do People Enter into a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
Traditionally, a pre-nuptial agreement was required by a potential spouse when there was a significant disparity in the financial position of the two parties. Usually, the groom had a significant amount of money and/or assets that he wanted to protect from his future bride. This remains a common reason for entering into a pre-nuptial agreement; however, it is not just as likely that the future bride is the one with the high dollar assets.
Another common reason for entering into a pre-nuptial agreement is when the marriage is a second (or subsequent) marriage for either or both spouses and there is a desire to protect children from the previous marriage. By entering into a pre-nuptial agreement, assets that are intended for children from a previous marriage cannot be lost to a spouse in a divorce settlement down the road.
Prospective spouses that intended to embark on a business together or any other type of joint financial undertaking may also wish to consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement in order to protect each party’s contribution to the venture in the event it fails or in the event of a divorce down the road.
What Is the Tennessee Pre-Nuptial Agreement Law?
In the State of Tennessee, Tennessee Code Section 36-3-501 governs the enforceability of pre-nuptial agreements, reading as follows:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, except as provided in § 36-3-502, any antenuptial or prenuptial agreement entered into by spouses concerning property owned by either spouse before the marriage that is the subject of such agreement shall be binding upon any court having jurisdiction over such spouses and/or such agreement if such agreement is determined, in the discretion of such court, to have been entered into by such spouses freely, knowledgeably and in good faith and without exertion of duress or undue influence upon either spouse. The terms of such agreement shall be enforceable by all remedies available for enforcement of contract terms.”
Note that the statute requires a pre-nuptial agreement to be entered into “freely, knowledgeably and in good faith and without exertion of duress or undue influence upon either spouse.” If a spouse challenges a pre-nuptial agreement, it will likely be on the grounds that the agreement was not entered into under all of these conditions.
How Can a Smyrna Divorce Lawyer Help?
Pre-nuptial agreements are typically very complex agreements that involve valuable assets and complicated provisions. For the agreement to be of use it must contemplate a seemingly endless number of possible contingencies. It is certainly not the type of agreement that can be drafted without the assistance of an experienced attorney nor should you ever sign one without having an experienced attorney review it with you to be certain it is fair. A Smyrna divorce lawyer can help you draft a pre-nuptial agreement, review one that has been drafted by someone else, or even challenge one that was signed prior to your marriage.
If you are contemplating entering into, or challenging, a pre-nuptial agreement in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna divorce lawyer as soon as possible at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.