Most people have heard of a pre-nuptial agreement, whether they have one or not. However, post-nuptial and cohabitation agreements are new to many people. If you fall into certain categories, you may want to consider these kinds of agreements before (or after) you say “I Do.” We explain what these agreements can and cannot do and who should consider drafting them.
Pre-Nuptial Agreements Can Protect Individual Assets
The primary legal purpose of a pre-nuptial agreement is to protect the assets an individual has from becoming community property in a marriage. When a couple marries later in life, they often have considerable personal assets that they may not be willing to throw into the marriage pot. Likewise, couples marrying for a second or third time often sign pre-nups to preserve certain assets for their children from a previous marriage. It is important to understand the following about pre-nuptial agreements in Washington State:
- Pre-nups cannot be used to pre-determine child custody and child support arrangements. Couples cannot outline what they want to happen with existing or potential children in a pre-nup, or if they do, it will not be legally binding. Those decisions must be made by the court in the event of a dissolution.
- Pre-nup forms downloaded from the internet may not hold up in court during a divorce. Each divorce is a unique situation and it is unlikely that a general form will address the specific concerns in your divorce or satisfy the procedural and substantive requirements of the law.
If you are going into a marriage with assets you would like to protect, contact our office for a consultation about a pre-nuptial agreement.
Post-Nuptial Agreements Are Often Used for Estate Planning
It may seem strange to sign legal documents about assets after you have been married for 25 years or more, but for some couples, this is a smart move. A post-nup can be used to stipulate how assets will be dispersed if one or the other spouse dies, or if the couple gets divorced. Some couples use post-nups to address conflict over money issues to try to save a marriage. If there are children from previous marriages, a couple may use a post-nup to make sure those children inherit the assets they want them to have—for example, property that has been in one family for generations.
Often, cohabitation agreements are used to avoid the creation of a Committed Intimate Relationship. However, cohabitation agreements can also help parties avoid disputes regarding living expenses or improvements to the parties homes or property. If you have assets that you want to protect, contact our office for a consultation about a cohabitation agreement.
Get Answers From Our Family Law Attorneys
The best way to determine whether a pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, or cohabitation agreement is a smart move for you is to talk to our legal team. We will take a look at your unique situation and help you make the right decision.