Prenuptial Agreements can effect changes to issues defined by Pennsylvania law such as what is and is not marital property, equitable distribution factors for dividing marital property, alimony factors for determining if one spouse should receive support from the other, and the potential payment of counsel fees by one party for the other. Pennsylvania law also provides for various rights should one spouse predecease the other. Often, what the law provides is sufficient. However, in some cases, people want to make specific adjustments to what the law provides for any number of reasons; a Prenuptial Agreement is an effective way to do just that.
A Prenuptial Agreement can also be used to change the definition of marital property and separate property to include or exclude assets and can identify what specific property will remain separate. In a Prenuptial Agreement, parties can avoid equitable distribution and instead define how specific assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. In addition, the agreement can be used to waive alimony and counsel fees, or provide for what will be paid by one spouse to the other in the event of a divorce. A Prenuptial Agreement can also address what happens to assets if one spouse predeceases the other, and can be used to waive rights that a spouse would otherwise have under estate law.
There are some things, however, that cannot be addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement. Child support cannot be waived, as that is a right that belongs to the child. Child custody is also not addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement, as custody determinations are based upon the best interest of the child, and those can change over time.
If you are engaged and contemplating a Prenuptial Agreement, keep in mind that in order to have a valid Prenuptial Agreement in Pennsylvania, the general requirements are that there must be full and fair disclosure of assets, liabilities and sources of income. It is also recommended that each of the parties has the agreement reviewed by their own attorney. While celebrities seemingly have Prenuptial Agreements and Marital Settlement Agreements drafted in a matter of days, remember that we do not know what is happening behind the scenes, and they often have teams of people working for them on retainer.
To avoid stress and conflict, if you are contemplating signing a Prenuptial Agreement before you marry, it is wise to reach out to a qualified family law attorney well in advance of your wedding day, as it takes time to draft, negotiate and finalize a Prenuptial Agreement.