When Is a Prenuptial Agreement Invalidated in North Carolina?
If you have a high net worth or you simply want to protect your assets in North Carolina, signing a prenuptial agreement before marriage is an obvious choice. These agreements can prevent you from losing your property in the case of a divorce, and they can offer you significant protection as your former spouse tries to push for things like equitable distribution and spousal support.
What many people do not realize is that a prenuptial agreement is not always a rock-solid legal document. There are many situations that might cause a prenuptial agreement to become invalidated in the Tar Heel State. Obviously, this is not ideal for anyone who wants to protect their assets in North Carolina. So what causes a prenuptial agreement to become invalidated in North Carolina? How can you prevent this from happening?
If you have questions like these, it is always best to consult a legal professional. A qualified, experienced divorce attorney in the Charlotte area can help you understand the limitations and potential shortcomings of your prenuptial agreement, and they can also guide you through the entire divorce process. Whether you are currently going through a separation or you just want to plan for the future, enlisting the help of a family law attorney is a strong investment.
- The Legal Definition of a Prenuptial Agreement
- Why Prenuptial Agreements Are Not Always Reliable
- What Your Prenuptial Agreement Is Allowed to Cover
- What Makes a Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable?
A prenuptial agreement is defined as a contract entered into by both spouses before the marriage that addresses the various rights and obligations of both parties after the marriage has ended. In most cases, prenuptial agreements deal with the distribution of assets and property after the marriage. The purpose of these agreements is to help one or both spouses protect their wealth from being distributed against their will. In North Carolina, prenuptial agreements are governed by a distinct statute called the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.
If you are not aware of the strict limitations laid out by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, it can be difficult to create an effective prenuptial agreement. This statute lays out in very clear terms when a prenuptial agreement can and cannot be enforced. If your prenuptial agreement does not adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, it may be considered null and void by a North Carolina District Court.
In North Carolina, you and your spouse are allowed to agree on a range of different potential issues in your prenuptial agreement. These include:
- Property rights
- Property management
- Spousal support
- Estate planning
- Life insurance policies
There are many other potential topics you can cover in your prenuptial agreement. In fact, the law states that you can cover virtually any matter imaginable in your prenuptial agreement, as long as it does not violate criminal laws or public policy.
That being said, there are a few things that you are not allowed to cover in your prenup. The contract is not allowed to mention anything relating to your children. This includes child support and child custody. A judge will determine how these issues are handled based on a child’s best interests. You can come to a mutual agreement with your spouse on these matters, but it cannot involve your prenuptial agreement.
In addition, agreements relating to spousal support are somewhat limited in a prenup. If your former spouse becomes eligible for public assistance (welfare) as a result of the prenuptial agreement, a court will likely force you to pay spousal support - but only the amount needed to make them ineligible for public assistance.
The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act clearly lays out two potential reasons why a prenuptial agreement might be unenforceable:
- Involuntary Signing of the Agreement: This is one of the most common ways in which spouses try to show that prenuptial agreements are invalid. If they can prove that they were coerced to sign the document or they did so under duress, a court may find that the agreement is null and void.
- Unconscionability: When a prenuptial agreement is unconscionable, it could mean a number of things. Generally, it means that a spouse did not really understand the contract they were getting into. For example, one spouse may not have been informed or made aware of the full extent of the other spouse’s assets and property. A spouse might argue unconscionability because they did not understand what they were signing.
If you are having trouble with your prenuptial agreement or any other aspect of your divorce, reach out to Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at one of our three Charlotte area offices, and we will help you make things right. Set up a consultation today by calling us at 704-370-2828.