Prenuptial agreements have a bad reputation. The image that comes to mind, spurred on by Hollywood, is of a rich elderly man who uses money to seduce a young woman into marrying him–and then insists upon a prenuptial agreement to cynically protect his interests from his (supposedly) conniving fiancee.
This stereotype is inaccurate, of course. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements (hereinafter, “prenups” unless stated otherwise) are perfectly legitimate and sometimes necessary ways of preparing for the unexpected and protecting both spouses in the event of eventual divorce. Spouses with a large gap in financial resources do enter into prenups, but so do spouses whose financial resources are roughly equal.
Fortunately, Minor Law Divorce Lawyers Offices has successfully assisted many of our clients with these matters in York County, SC. If you suspect that you need a prenup, act quickly so that we can assess your needs and begin protecting your interests right away.
How Minor Law Offices Can Help With Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in York County
Our York County family law and divorce attorney has almost a decade of experience and is equipped to help you with even the most complex prenuptial/postnuptial agreements.
Below are just a few of the ways we can help:
- Guidance: We can provide legal advice on prenups to make sure that you fully
understand the implications and consequences of anything you are considering signing.
- Document drafting: We can draft a prenup agreement that is tailored to your individual needs as well as your unique financial position.
- Compliance: We can ensure that your prenup complies with state law, so that a court cannot invalidate it later. Did you know, for example, that South Carolina prenups must be notarized?
- Mediation services: We can help act as an intermediary between spouses so that you can draft an agreement that both of you can live with.
- Asset protection: We can help protect your assets at every stage, including hypothetical divorce or separation.
- Conflict resolution: We can help mediate any conflict, and we can represent you in court if it comes to that.
- Modifications: You might need to modify your prenup in the future. We can help you do so in the most efficient and effective manner.
If you require any other related assistance, we can provide effective legal services every step of the way. Contact our law offices in York County, South Carolina, today to set up a consultation.
How Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Work in York County, South Carolina: A General Overview
South Carolina state law governs York County prenup agreements. It provides default provisions as to the distribution of assets when a couple marries, during the course of the marriage, and after divorce or death. The main purpose of a prenup is to pre-empt state divorce law to a certain extent, by replacing default divorce provisions with the terms of your prenup.
A prenup can:
- Specify which property belongs to an individual spouse and which property belongs to the marital estate.
- Provide for post-divorce alimony to be paid to a spouse who chooses to work as a homemaker.
- Waive one spouse’s right to claim a share of the other spouse’s property after death.
- Clarify which party is responsible for paying which debts.
- Protect children of the marriage from adverse financial consequences arising from one of the spouse’s previous marriages.
- Specify the rights of a spouse who is contributing to the professional development of the other spouse in anticipation of a long-term marriage. One spouse might have quit college so that the other can attend dental school, for example.
This is an incomplete list of matters that a prenup might cover. Nevertheless, you cannot use a prenup to resolve matters such as child custody and child support, as the “best interests of the child” govern these decisions.
What Are the Requirements for a Valid Prenup Agreement in South Carolina?
A South Carolina prenup must meet the following standards to become a legally binding document:
- It must be in writing and signed by both parties in the presence of a notary public,
- Both parties must be either 18 years old or legally emancipated at the time they sign the document;
- Both parties must have made a full financial disclosure to the other before signing the documents;
- Both signatures must have been voluntary; and
- Each party must have been represented by an attorney or at least have had the opportunity to consult an attorney.
The family court can invalidate a prenup if it determines that any of the foregoing requirements were not met.
South Carolina law generally imposes the same standards on post-nuptial agreements as on pre-nuptial agreements. The only significant exception is that in the case of a postnuptial agreement, you might have to prove that you are already married at the time you sign it.
What Terms Should the Agreement Include?
A well-drafted prenuptial agreement might include the following terms:
- A listing of each spouse’s separate property, along with a statement that the listed property will remain the property of the listed spouse throughout the marriage.
- A statement that each party waives the right to claim any of the other party’s separate property when they die.
- A statement that each party will pay their own premarital debts (if that is indeed your arrangement).
- An explanation of how you will buy and own property during the marriage (who will hold title to the property, for example).
- The rights of a spouse who made financial sacrifices to contribute to the education or professional success of their partner.
Prenups are not prefabricated. Feel free to include any other terms that are relevant to your individual case, subject to review by your lawyer.
What Are the Benefits of a Well-Drafted Prenup in York County, SC?
A well-drafted prenup can:
- Give you peace of mind by clarifying your financial future.
- Offer you an opportunity to discuss financial matters while you’re still happy. You’ll get better results than you will by discussing such matters when you’re in the midst of a painful divorce.
- Protect the children of your marriage from loss of inheritance or financial instability as a consequence of either party’s prior marriages.
- Clarify that the assets you bring into the marriage are your separate property. Couples often enter into postnuptial agreements because one spouse inherited a sizable amount of property.
- Ensure that each party is protected from the debts of the other party.
- Preserve the confidentiality of your finances by co-opting public litigation during a divorce.
- Protect a spouse who chooses to stay home and raise children with agreed-upon financial provisions such as guaranteed alimony.
- Prevents a divorce from disrupting a business owned by both spouses.
The foregoing list only scratches the surface of the numerous benefits of a well-drafted prenup.
Why Sign a Postnuptial Agreement in York County, South Carolina?
Couples often enter into postnuptial agreements after one of them receives a large inheritance. The purpose would be to clarify that the inherited property belongs to one spouse and not the other.
A couple might enter into a postnuptial agreement for other reasons as well. They might have been too starry-eyed during their engagement to even consider a prenuptial agreement, for example, but might have become more practical as the years rolled by.
Finally, family court judges tend to take postnuptial agreements more seriously than prenuptial agreements. This is because they see the spouses as being more “worldly wise” after marriage than before.
This is especially likely if the spouses enter into a postnuptial agreement after years of marriage. For this reason, entering into a postnuptial agreement a few years into a marriage subject to an existing prenuptial agreement can be a good idea.
Can You Challenge the Validity of a Prenup?
Yes, you can challenge the validity of a prenup – on the following grounds, among others:
- Technical deficiencies: Lack of a signature or notarization, for example.
- Duress or undue influence. This might apply if, for example, your spouse surprises you with a prenup the day of the wedding, and they’ve got a lawyer, but you don’t.
- Lack of full financial disclosure by either party. This is a form of fraud if it was intentional.
- Inclusion of child custody or child support matters in the agreement. The judge might simply strike the offending provisions, or they might invalidate the entire agreement.
- The agreement is unconscionable. Normally, courts won’t find an agreement unconscionable unless it was wildly one-sided at the time it was entered into.
A prenup is a binding legal contract, and it is subject to all the legal grounds for rescission that other kinds of contracts are.
Litigating a York County Prenup
Litigating a prenup partially defeats the purpose of signing one in the first place, since one of the main reasons for entering into a prenup is to avoid litigation. If your spouse or fiance(e) sues you on a prenup, don’t panic.
Call us, because you are likely to need our help. Just because you are facing litigation doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose the case. Above all, keep your cool so that you don’t undertake any rash actions that could damage your position.
If the Court Invalidates the Agreement
If the court invalidates a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the default South Carolina divorce laws concerning the division of marital property and other relevant issues will govern your divorce.
Schedule a Consultation With Our York County Prenuptial-Postnuptial Agreements Lawyer
If you need help with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in York County, SC, look no further than Minor Law Offices. Our trusted family lawyer can guide you through the entire process, ensuring your legal interests are asserted at all times. Contact our family law firm today to set up an initial consultation.