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21 Apr 2016

Virginia Prenuptial Agreements

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Pre-Nuptial with RingsA prenuptial agreement[1] is a written contract created by two people before they are married. The agreement typically lists all of the property each person owns as well as a listing of each person’s debts.  Virginia law requires a prenuptial agreement to be voluntary, in writing and signed by both parties. It also establishes certain requirements for the content of such agreements and requires disclosure of property and financial obligations prior to marriage in order to be enforceable.  An experienced Arlington prenuptial agreement attorney can explain all of the necessary legal requirements under Virginia law.

Who Needs an Arlington Prenuptial Agreement?

While many individuals believe that only wealthy couples benefit from the existence of a prenuptial agreement, second marriage couples, older couples, and even couples of modest means can benefit from the execution of a prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding day for varied reasons including:

  • Second marriages:  A second marriage couple with children from prior relationships can benefit from the existence of a prenuptial agreement in order to determine what will happen to their property when they die.  Without such an agreement, a surviving spouse may have the right to claim a large portion of the other spouse’s property, leaving little to pass to the deceased party’s children from the prior relationships.
  • Financial rights:  Couples can use a prenuptial agreement to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage regardless of their level of wealth.
  • Divorce arguments:  Prenuptial agreements can specify in advance how their property will be divided and whether or not either spouse will receive alimony or spousal support in the event of a future divorce.
  • Debt protection:  A prenuptial agreement can be used to protect spouses from each other’s debts.

Arlington Divorce Without a Prenuptial Agreement

When an Arlington, Virginia couple files for divorce without a valid prenuptial agreement, Virginia state laws determine who owns the property that was acquired during the marriage.  In the state of Virginia, a marriage is considered to be a contract between two people and with that contract an individual can:

  • Share ownership of property acquired during marriage.  The Virginia Bar Association provides that marital property[2] is defined as all jointly-owned property and all other property, other than separate property, acquired from the date of the marriage to the date of separation. Typical examples of marital property are the marital home titled in the names of both spouses or a retirement account accumulated during the marriage even if the account is only in the name of one spouse.
  • Incur debts during the marriage for which the other spouse may be partially or wholly liable.

Creating an Arlington Prenuptial Agreement

There was a time in Virginia when courts scrutinized prenuptial agreements which typically involved a waiver of legal and financial benefits by the less wealthy spouse.  With more financial equality between spouses now occurring, courts are increasingly willing to uphold prenuptial agreements. Because judges still look carefully at these types of agreements, however, it is important to speak to an experienced Arlington prenuptial agreement to make certain that the terms of the agreement are negotiated and drafted in such a manner to best protect your rights.

Contact an Arlington, Virginia Prenuptial Agreement Attorney

If you are contemplating getting engaged or are already engaged and plan to get married, speak to an Arlington prenuptial attorney to determine if you can protect your rights and your property with the execution of a prenuptial agreement before your wedding day.  Call The Law Office of Raymond B. Benzinger P.C. today at (703) 383-1362.



The Law Office of Raymond B. Benzinger
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