How Does North Carolina Handle Prenuptial Agreements?

Each state has its own slightly different rules when it comes to prenuptial agreements, and North Carolina is no exception. If you depend on your prenuptial agreement to protect your wealth after a divorce, the good news is that the Tar Heel State enforces these contracts. Unlike a few other states, there are only a few reasons why a judge might consider your prenup invalid. If your spouse has agreed to a prenuptial agreement, they will be held to this agreement in a court of law.

That being said, prenuptial agreements have limitations, and it is crucial to understand these limitations as you approach your divorce. You may be concerned that the terms of your prenuptial agreement may limit your ability to get your fair share after a divorce. As previously mentioned, there are a few reasons why a prenuptial agreement may be considered invalid, so you at least have a chance of fighting against the terms of your agreement if you find them unreasonably limiting.

Whether you are trying to enforce a prenuptial agreement or challenge it, you should always work with a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina. These legal professionals are well aware of how the Tar Heel State handles prenuptial agreements, and they can guide you toward the best possible outcome in an efficient manner. An attorney can also assist you with other aspects of your divorce, such as property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

The Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act

North Carolina follows the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, otherwise known simply as UPAA. This is a set of universal laws recognized by multiple states, and it forms a widely-recognized legal framework for how prenuptial agreements are handled. When questions arise over whether a prenuptial agreement should be enforced, the Tar Heel State always refers to the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act.

The basics of the UPAA are pretty straightforward. When couples create a prenuptial agreement, they can choose which state’s specific laws apply to their agreement. This is helpful when controlling how things like property division and spousal support are handled.

A key aspect of the UPAA involves when prenuptial agreements are enforceable. According to this set of laws, a prenup is only enforceable if both parties enter into the agreement voluntarily. There can be no coercion or deception whatsoever. In addition, a prenuptial agreement becomes completely invalid if one spouse is left reliant on government assistance (welfare) because of the removal of spousal support.

Proving That a Prenuptial Agreement Is Unenforceable

Under the UPAA, you must prove that a prenuptial agreement is unenforceable if you want to invalidate it. The burden of proof is on you to prove that the agreement is invalid and not the other way around.

The UPAA establishes several situations in which a prenup might be unenforceable:

  • You signed the agreement involuntarily
  • You signed the agreement as the result of duress
  • You did not have access to legal representation before signing the agreement
  • The agreement did not include a waiver of rights
  • The agreement did not include an explanation of the specific marital rights or obligations being modified or waived by the agreement
  • Both spouses did not adequately disclose their financial situations before signing the agreement
Getting Legal Representation Prior to Signing a Prenup

The UPAA defines “independent legal representation” in very specific terms. You are only considered to have independent legal representation if you are given enough time to decide on whether it is necessary to retain a lawyer, locate a lawyer, and obtain the lawyer’s advice. You also need to have the financial ability to actually hire a lawyer and pay a reasonable amount of fees and expenses associated with this step. This seems to suggest that the other spouse must pay for your legal fees if they want the prenuptial agreement to be valid.

What Is Financial Disclosure?

Financial disclosure is essential when creating and signing prenups. This means that you must have an accurate understanding of exactly how much wealth your spouse has before you sign a prenuptial agreement. They cannot hide the true extent of their wealth before asking you to sign a prenuptial agreement, and they must reveal it in full.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the North Carolina area for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney who can assist you with this matter, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. We have considerable experience with divorces in North Carolina, and we have helped numerous high-net-worth spouses reach favorable legal outcomes. We also have significant experience with complex property division and other things of that nature. Reach out today, book your consultation, and we can develop an action plan together.