Basics of Virginia Law and Prenuptial Agreements

Hollywood’s Portrayal of Prenuptial or Premarital Agreements

June is here, and although the warm weather is only just beginning, wedding season is hot underway. American Idol fans celebrated this weekend as former contestants Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young tied the knot. Billionaire Napster Mogul and Facebook investor Sean Parker shelled out a cool $10 million for his Game of Thrones –themed nuptials, which also took place this past weekend.

We hear about lavish celebrity weddings all the time and wait eagerly to glance at photographs of the designer gowns and exotic locations chosen by America’s royalty. It is all too easy to get caught up in the excitement and extravagance of weddings and engagements that we forget about the “what-ifs”. What if it doesn’t work out; what if I change my mind; what will happen to me if I put my career on hold to start a family?

Prenups and Gold-Diggers?

The prenuptial agreement, or “prenup”, has been characterized through movies and television as a vicious ultimatum presented to gold-digging women by their wealthy fiancés due to pressure from the family. In reality, yes, a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect an affluent individual from his or her ambitious spouse. However, they are not just for the wealthy. In fact, prenuptial agreements are most commonly used by couples where one or both of the parties have been previously married. So what exactly is a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial Agreements Under Virginia Law

In Virginia, prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties, according to the Premarital Agreement Act, or Chapter 8 of Title 20 of the Virginia Code.

The Basics of Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that couples sign prior to marriage which details the rights and obligations of each party in the event of death or divorce, and often contains provisions relating to the following:

1. The rights and obligations of each of the parties to property;

2. The right to buy, sell, or otherwise manage and control property;

3. The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;

4. Spousal support;

5. The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;

6. The disposition of a life insurance policy.

Why Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

There are many reasons to enter into a prenuptial agreement with your spouse, and the decision to do so does not mean that you believe the relationship will fail, or that you and your spouse do not trust one another. Divorces can be expensive, messy, and lengthy. Kim Kardashian was married to Kris Humphries for 72 days, and has been divorcing him for over one year. Steven Spielberg famously lost $100 million in his divorce, while the ex-wives of Paul McCartney and James Cameron walked away with $50 million respectively.

You’re not a pessimist if you decide to draft an agreement with your spouse while you two still like each other. Talk to your fiancé about a prenuptial agreement.

What Prenuptial Agreements Cannot Contain Under Virginia Law

Typically, Virginia courts will not enforce provisions of a prenuptial agreement that cover custodial rights, child support amounts and visitation. Quite simply, a court always has jurisdiction over these types of provisions, according to changed circumstances and best interests of children.

If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia family law attorney or divorce lawyer, contact Keithley Law, PLLCtoday by calling (703) 454-5147and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office.

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