That is a question many people ask themselves, particularly when facing a second marriage. If you suffered a messy divorce and felt like you lost too much as a result, you will be keen to shield yourself the second time around. It makes sense to get the protection now that you wish you had then.
But a second marriage is not the only reason someone might need a pre-marital agreement. Pre-marital agreements largely determine property rights and support entitlement. You may have children from a prior relationship and are concerned about protecting assets you ultimately hope to pass on to them. You may be an owner or a partner in a business interest that you need to protect. You may be moving to a new location or giving up your career to enter the marriage and would like to have some protection if you suddenly find yourself separated and unable to provide for yourself. You are concerned about the debts of the other party and would like to insulate yourself from those issues. For many people, the practical answer to the question is a resounding YES; you do need a pre-nup.
Pre-marital agreements are contracts between future spouses that establish rights both 1) upon the separation of the couple or 2) during the marriage itself. Yes, you read that correctly. Pre-marital agreements are not just for the purposes of separation. Financial responsibilities and obligations during the marriage can be addressed within your agreement. For instance, you can establish who will be responsible for paying recurring monthly expenses, how bank accounts will be titled and funded, obligations to provide for health coverage, gifts between spouses, and more.
In the event of a separation, when a dispute arises without a pre-marital agreement in place, the courts of the State of North Carolina will determine all property rights and support issues for a separating couple. This can be an arduous and lengthy process, not to mention expensive. You may be forced to sell your business interest(s) or your house to resolve the dispute. You will likely feel as though you lost everything, or at least a lot of control over your personal property.
With a pre-marital agreement, you can have confidence moving forward that no matter what the life hurdle you and your future spouse face, your interests will be well protected. It can take the gamesmanship out of a relationship. You are not leaving or staying in a marriage out of fear. You are able to focus purely on the health of your marriage relationship without worry about your kids or your business.
Our firm can assist you in drafting a pre-marital agreement that is specific to your needs and guide you in making the appropriate arrangements to protect your interests.