As couples approach marriage, it is important to consider whether a prenuptial agreement will be executed.
Unfortunately, there is still a fair amount of social stigma attached to prenuptial agreements: Aren’t you expecting your marriage to last forever? Why are you preparing for divorce before you even get married? Does a prenup doom your marriage from the start?
Why Execute a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?
When saying “I do”, most all couples hope for “happily ever after”. The truth is, however, more than half of American marriages end in divorce, despite everyone’s best intentions.
As much as a marriage is a public declaration of love and commitment, it is a financial partnership, endorsed by the government and involving certain rights and responsibilities.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular. This is not because people are assuming their marriage will end in divorce but because they are choosing to be prepared for all outcomes and protecting themselves and their separate property.
Making the decision to end a marriage is generally an emotional and painful process, unique to each individual couple. For couples who determine it is in their best interest to divorce, having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place eases the process somewhat, with decisions about some of the important logistics involved in the separation process having already been made.
Washington is a community property state. Pre- and postnuptial agreements allow for clarity when it comes to property and asset ownership during a marriage and in the event of a divorce or legal separation. Spousal maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) and life insurance may also be included in these contracts. Washington state pre- and postnuptial agreements do not address child custody or child support issues.
- Prenuptial agreements are executed and determined before a marriage, clarifying which assets are brought to the partnership by each party. These contracts serve to characterize the assets and determine how they would be addressed in the event of a separation or divorce.
- Postnuptial agreements are executed and updated continually after a couple is married. This is a written contract used to clarify ownership of assets or debts acquired during the marriage and to settle the couple’s affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce.
- Cohabitation agreements are contracts between unmarried couples who live together, detailing legal rights and responsibilities between partners. Property ownership is clarified and it is determined how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a separation. In Washington State, committed intimate relationships (formerly known as meretricious relationships) hold rights and responsibilities similar to those of married couples, including property and asset ownership. Cohabitation agreements serve to protect individuals and their assets. (link to cohab agreements post)
If you have questions about parentage action or paternal rights in Washington state or if you are seeking legal counsel, please contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. This just begins to shed light on the state’s comprehensive paternity and parentage laws. Our experienced family law attorneys are strong advocates, recognizing the unique aspects of each case. We have the expertise and ability to provide advice and representation to anyone with an interest or concern related to legal parentage, with all degrees of complexity. We are committed to helping you achieve the best outcome in your case, insisting on the best interest of your children.