Under North Carolina law, there are remarkable parallels between a marriage and a business partnership. In both cases, the people are bound together by a legal contract that allows them to be treated as a unit. Yet within each partnership, the individual parties also have ties of duty and obligation—and they can voluntarily bind themselves with additional agreements, to their mutual advantage.
That, in a nutshell, is the idea behind prenuptial agreements in North Carolina. By creating a separate contract that supplements the legal agreement of marriage, you and your soon-to-be spouse can protect your individual rights and interests. Often enough, the existence of a premarital agreement can help bring a couple closer together, by opening lines of communication and forcing the partners to recognize what the other party expects from the relationship.
Planning for the future
Not every couple in North Carolina needs a prenuptial agreement.
When one of the partners has been married before, though, he or she should be sensitive to the fact that marriages aren’t always as durable as one might hope. This is true whether the first marriage ended in a divorce or by an untimely death. That partner should realize it only makes sense to create a fair agreement for settling the difference if this marriage, too, should not last—and it’s best to make this agreement at the outset, when the couple can cooperate lovingly.
There are many circumstances when you should consider entering into a North Carolina prenuptial agreement. Such a contract might be in order if, at the time of your marriage, one of the spouses:
- Owns a business or has an interest in a business (especially a family business).
- Owns a home, a rental property, a condominium, or other real property.
- Owns substantial assets that are likely to gain value during the marriage.
- Is significantly wealthier than the other party.
- Carries a substantial load of personal debt.
- Has a history of bankruptcy or poor personal financial management.
- Has an unpaid lawsuit judgment, or is facing a potential lawsuit that could impose significant damages.
- Has a history of marital misbehavior (such as infidelity) or involvement in criminal activity.
- Is named as the beneficiary on a third party’s life insurance policy.
- Is the beneficiary of a trust fund.
- Expects to inherit property or money during the marriage.
- Has children from a previous marriage.
- Is interrupting educational or career plans in order to get married.
Protecting your future
If you do not have a prenuptial agreement, you face potential financial disaster if your spouse dies suddenly or if you find yourself involved in divorce proceedings. Property you thought was yours could be seized by your spouse’s children from a previous relationship or taken by the state for payment of tax arrears or criminal restitution. Worst of all, you could find that your spouse was not the loving mate you believed, and that he or she is now trying to walk away with assets and income you brought to the marriage.
The marital asset conservation attorneys at Speaks Law Firm are well prepared to draft North Carolina prenuptial agreements that meet the specific needs of our clients. From our location in Wilmington, NC, we serve family law clients in all nearby towns, including Bayshore, Carolina Beach, Hampstead, Kirkland, Kure Beach, Myrtle Grove, Wrightsboro, and Wrightsville Beach. Call us today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to schedule an appointment or to get your questions answered.