Nobody likes to think about divorce before entering into a marriage, but an increasing number of couples do just that, with a prenuptial agreement. This agreement can be used to set terms for the disposition of property, debts and other responsibilities when a marriage ends. These agreements are particularly useful in Washington, a community property state, where the law mandates that all property and debts acquired during the marriage (unless they are gifts or inheritances) are split 50/50 between the two parties. Couples with prenuptial agreements have a way to safeguard the property they wish to keep.
A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding contract between parties about to wed that sets forth the allocation of separate and marital property and specific responsibilities in the event of divorce or death. It can deal with all of the couple’s assets or just one or two items. Among the issues that may be resolved in a prenuptial agreement are:
- Amount, type and duration of alimony payments
- Management and ownership of present or future businesses
- Disposition of present and future acquired property
- Characterization of assets as marital or separate property
- Division of retirement accounts
- Income tax deductions and credits
- Requirements for maintaining life insurance policies
- Division of joint and separate financial accounts
- Allocation of credit card payments
- Responsibility for present and future debts
- Preserving family property for children of a prior marriage
Anyone who is contemplating entering into a prenuptial agreement should consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can protect their interests and ensure the agreement is legally valid. The terms of a prenup cannot favor one side or the other, the agreement cannot be used to perpetuate fraud or illegal activities, and it must be entered into freely, without coercion. And while there are many issues that these agreements can apply to, they cannot be used to determine child support or custody. Those determinations are for the court to decide at its discretion according to the best interests of the children and Washington law.
At Bottimore & Associates, P.L.L.C. in Tacoma, we have been assisting clients throughout Washington for almost 20 years with drafting, reviewing and enforcing prenuptial agreements. If you or a loved one needs assistance with a prenup, call us at 253-272-5653 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.