If you are contemplating marriage, you, or your future spouse (or both) may wish to enter into a prenuptial agreement. It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced attorney before entering into a prenuptial agreement. To get you started, however, a Murfreesboro family law attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains some things you need to know before signing a Tennessee prenuptial agreement.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by a couple in contemplation of marriage. Once signed, a valid prenuptial agreement becomes that a legally enforceable plan for how the spouses will divide up their assets in the event of the death of a spouse and/or divorce. The terms of a prenuptial agreement take effect upon the marriage of the parties and remain in effect unless both parties agree to revoke or modify the agreement.
Why Would I Sign a Prenuptial Agreement?
There was a time when mere mention of a prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a pre-marital agreement, tended to cause marital conflict before the marriage even took place. Today, however, more and more couples are deciding as a couple to enter into a prenuptial agreement. Often, this is because there are children from a prior marriage that either or both parties want to protect. Another reason for the increased interest in prenuptial agreements is that people are waiting longer to enter into marriage, meaning that both spouses may bring significant assets into the marriage.
What Can and Cannot Be Agreed Upon in a Tennessee Prenuptial Agreement?
Before discussing, or signing, a Tennessee prenuptial agreement, it is important to understand what can, and what cannot, be included in the agreement. Things you can agree to in a prenuptial agreement include:
- How property and assets will be divided in a divorce.
- What will be inherited by a spouse in the event of the death of the other spouse.
- Protecting assets or property intended for children from a previous relationship.
- Who will be responsible for debts.
- The type, amount, and duration of alimony.
- Alimony may also be waived in a prenuptial agreement.
One thing that cannot be agreed to in a prenuptial agreement is the payment of child support or other issues related to the children of this marriage. If the marriage ends in divorce, all issues related to the minor children of the marriage must be made using the best interests of the child standard and cannot, therefore, be agreed upon in advance. Moreover, child support is considered a right of the child’s and cannot be waived by a parent.
Is a Tennessee Prenuptial Agreement Legally Enforceable?
Tennessee law does recognize and enforce prenuptial agreements if the agreement was “entered into by such spouses freely, knowledgeably and in good faith and without exertion of duress or undue influence upon either spouse.” If the validity, and therefore enforceability, of a prenuptial agreement is challenged in court, the judge will look at whether the agreement appears fair and whether both parties knew what they were agreeing to at the time the agreement was signed. To increase the likelihood that a prenuptial agreement will withstand judicial scrutiny, it is best for both parties to have their own attorney representing them during the drafting and execution of the agreement. It is also crucial to fully disclose assets and debts prior to signing a prenuptial agreement. Failing to do so can lead to a successful challenge to the agreement based on the argument that the other spouse did not enter into the agreement “knowingly.”
Contact a Murfreesboro Family Law Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about signing a Tennessee prenuptial agreement, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro family law attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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