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What Virginia couples should know about prenuptial agreements

Virginia couples planning on marriage may benefit from signing a prenuptial agreement to specify their financial arrangements in the case of a divorce or the death of one spouse. Creating a prenuptial agreement can be a straightforward process, and it is recommended that both parties have their own attorney. Full disclosure of finances on behalf of both parties is also an important and required part of the process.

The timing of a prenuptial agreement is important since executing one too close to the wedding can make it appear that it was signed by a party under duress, which could potentially lead a court to invalidate all or a portion of it in a subsequent challenge. For this reason, it is best to finalize and sign a prenuptial agreement significantly in advance of the wedding. Prenuptial agreements are commonly used by parties in a second marriage with children from the first marriage. In such cases, prenuptial agreements offer care for the surviving spouse in the event that he or she is widowed while protecting the inheritance of the deceased spouse's children.

A trust is another commonly used tactic to protect wealth when the assets in question belong to a parent of one of the parties getting married. Parental assets may be placed into a trust without the future spouse's knowledge or consent. Property placed into a trust may be excluded from that spouse's assets in the event of a divorce settlement or property division order.

Individuals looking into a prenuptial agreement or parental asset trust may benefit from consultation with a family law attorney. Prenuptial agreements can be a straightforward process if both parties are honest about their financial profiles and may prevent difficult litigation in the future.

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