In 2022, about 7 out of 1,000 women across the United States had become divorced within the prior year. Arkansas had the highest rate, with 11.85, while Vermont had the lowest rate at 4.65.

Even though marriage is meant to be a lifelong partnership, many end in either separation or divorce. When that happens, you’ll rest easier knowing that your individual finances aren’t negatively affecting each other. You may even want to keep your wealth from a spiteful ex.

Here are some ways your prenuptial lawyer can help you arrange a proper Virginia marital agreement.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

You may have heard other couples talk about prenups or needing them in case of a divorce. It’s often discussed as a way to protect oneself from a greedy ex-spouse, but there’s more to the agreement than that.

In short, a prenuptial agreement is a type of Virginia marital agreement meant to help establish the individual rights attributed to each spouse in the event of a divorce. However, it’s also used to organize financial responsibilities in a way that removes liability from each other.

For example, a prenup can keep your ex-husband from claiming your investments. The same prenup can also help keep your debts from passing over to your husband. It can both protect as well as deny access.

Some prenup benefits include saving time and money during a messy divorce as well as protecting your separate property. You may not necessarily want a home left by your grandparents to pass over to your significant other. It also makes the process easier by outlining the most important assets you own.

Areas to Cover

There are five key areas to cover when it comes to your prenuptial. These include inheritance rights, property division, business items, debt, and alimony.

Parental rights cannot be added to a prenuptial due to how much can change when the divorce actually happens. The child should have a say in what happens to them, which you can’t always ensure when writing the agreement.

Inheritance Rights

One of the first items to touch on is who inherits your assets when you pass on. Too often families will fight over property as if they are owed it due to their relations. However, your prenup can decide the people who gain your assets.

This is most commonly used for those who have children from a previous marriage. They can designate them to inherit family heirlooms and their estate if they don’t want their partner’s adult children to gain access to them.

Property Division

Along the same lines, your prenup can outline what is considered separate property and what is deemed marital property. Separate property is anything owned before the marriage and potentially anything personally related to one person. Marital property is anything acquired during the marriage by both parties.

How it is all sorted will depend on the couple and their agreement. Someone hoping to open a restaurant or business location may decide to mark that as separate property simply to avoid passing on any risk to their spouse.

Marital properties will likely be any homes bought together or shared vehicles. It may also include valuable purchases such as paintings or jewelry.

Business Interests

One of the smartest things you can do when marrying a business partner is to protect shared business interests in your prenup. Instead of dividing up the company and its funds between both individuals, you can opt for shared custody.

Include details in your prenup about how the business will be managed in the event of a divorce. This can be especially helpful if you end up in a messy divorce and one partner wants to take the business out of the other’s hands.

Your prenup should take into account any changes in value that may occur over time.

Debt Division

Have you taken into account your partner’s debt before marrying them?

Some individuals come with debt due to a number of factors ranging from medical conditions to student loans. Not every relationship wants that debt split between the two spouses, though.

As such, it’s important to outline who is responsible for which debts incurred before the marriage. You’ll also want to note how incurred debts are handled afterward.

For example, one partner may decide to start a business at a high risk. If it fails, they may want that debt to fall solely to them rather than their partner.

Failure to cover debt in your prenup may result in the court splitting assets according to their own criteria.

Spousal Support and Alimony

Finally, you may want to cover whether or not you plan to offer spousal support after a divorce. This is when one spouse provides financial support for another. You can dictate the amount and for how long the support will last.

Of course, you should always take into account if their situation changes. This is meant to help lessen the blow when one of the spouses has to relocate or loses a steady stream of income. You’ll want to specify conditions that could terminate spousal support, such as if they remarry.

Finding the Right Prenuptial Lawyer

If you’re not sure how to write up your own prenuptial agreement, then it’s best that you hire a lawyer to help. They can guide you through the process and make sure you don’t forget certain details or write something down incorrectly. The last thing you want is for a future lawyer to challenge your agreement and find loopholes in it.

Find a lawyer together that has no bias toward either spouse. While you can use recommendations from friends or family, you may want to look on your own without too much of their input.

Get a Handle On Your Future Financials

A prenuptial lawyer is often necessary for a prenuptial agreement to be legally binding. Without them, there’s a good chance it’ll be challenged in court and invalidated. There’s no point in drafting one if it isn’t going to hold up in court.

Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC is a Fairfax law firm dedicated to helping our clients in the North Virginia area. Our practice has consistently landed in The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 for the past three years. Schedule your free initial consultation to learn more and tell us about your situation.