Once a couple decides to marry, there are many things to think about. One option to consider is whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement. The agreement is a way to determine certain rights and responsibilities, especially in case the marriage ends in divorce. A couple should analyze their specific situation to determine whether a prenuptial agreement is the right decision for them.
Formalities of the Agreement
Virginia law requires premarital agreements to be is in writing and signed by both parties. The agreement is enforceable without consideration and becomes effective upon the marriage.
Overview of Virginia Marriage Laws
The statutes that govern Virginia's prenuptial agreements are easy to understand compared to more complex statutes. However, it doesn't hurt to break down the law even further with a concise version of the content. The chart below provides a summary of Virginia's prenuptial agreement laws.
Virginia Code Title 20:
- Section 20-149 (formalities)
- Section 20-150 (content)
- Section 20-151 (enforcement)
- Section 20-152 (limitations of actions)
- Section 20-153 (amendment or revocation of agreement)
Content of agreement
The content of a prenuptial agreement can cover a lot of areas. State law determines what can and can't be included in any prenup.
In Virginia, a prenuptial agreement may include the following:
- Rights and obligations related to property;
- The right to sell, buy, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or manage and control property;
- Spousal support;
- The making of a will, trust, or other arrangements to carry out the agreement terms;
- The ownership rights in and distribution of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
- Choice of law decisions for the agreement; and
- Any other matter (including personal rights and obligations) that doesn't violate a criminal statute or public policy.
Amendment or Revocation
After the marriage, the premarital agreement may be amended or revoked only by a written agreement signed by both parties; the amended agreement is enforceable without consideration.
If the validity of the agreement is in dispute, the person who wants to invalidate the agreement, can prove that they didn't voluntarily execute the agreement; or that the agreement was unconscionable when it was executed and that before execution of the agreement, the person:
- Didn't receive a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party; and
- Didn't voluntarily and expressly waive (in writing) any right to the disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
If a marriage is determined to be void, an agreement that would've been a valid prenuptial agreement but for the void marriage, is enforceable only to the degree necessary to avoid an inequitable result.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Related Resources for Virginia Prenuptial Agreements:
Get Prenup Assistance from a Virginia Attorney
Getting a prenuptial agreement might be a good option depending on your situation. If you're thinking about a prenup, you should consider talking to an experienced Virginia attorney who can help with drafting the agreement and negotiating terms.