man and woman sitting and writing a prenup

Prenups: What You Need to Know

Many couples shy away from the idea of prenups because they think it's unromantic or that it indicates a lack of trust. But the real truth is that having a prenup lawyer draft a well-prepared agreement can provide peace of mind for both parties. In this blog, we'll explore the value of prenuptial agreements and answer some common questions about them.

Can I Write My Own Prenup?

In theory, yes, you can write your prenup. However, it is essential to remember that prenups are legal documents and must comply with Pennsylvania law to be enforceable. Consequently, a prenup that is poorly written or doesn't follow the law could be invalidated by a court.

Additionally, DIY prenups are more likely to contain errors or omissions that could cause problems. So I recommend couples work with a family lawyer to draft their prenup.

What Should Prenuptial Agreements Include?

A prenup should include provisions that address the couple's financial and property rights in the event of divorce or separation. This might include:

  • How assets and debts will be divided
  • Whether spousal support will be paid and how much
  • How property acquired during the marriage will be divided
  • How property brought into the marriage will be treated
  • Whether one or both spouses will have the right to live in the marital home
  • How retirement accounts and other financial assets will be handled

It is important to note that a prenup cannot include child custody or child support provisions. These issues are decided by a court based on the child's best interests at the time of the divorce or separation.

Do You Need Two Lawyers for a Prenup?

While Pennsylvania law does not require each party to have a prenup lawyer, it is highly recommended. For instance, utilizing the assistance of a family lawyer for each partner can help ensure that each party's rights are protected and that the prenup is fair and enforceable.

Additionally, if one party later challenges the prenup in court, having separate prenup lawyers can help demonstrate that each party understood the agreement's terms and entered it voluntarily.

Can You Create and Sign a Prenuptial Agreement after You're Married?

Yes, you can create and sign a postnuptial agreement after marriage. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement but is signed after the couple has married.

Can Catholics Get a Prenup?

Yes, Catholics can get a prenup. However, the Catholic Church does not recognize prenuptial agreements as a means to dissolve a valid marriage or to determine the custody of children. So, if a couple is Catholic, they may want to consult with their church before creating a prenup.

Is Common Law Marriage Real?

Yes, common law marriage is an actual legal concept. Common law is a form of marriage recognized in some states when specific criteria are met.

Is Common Law Marriage Valid in Pennsylvania?

No, common-law marriage is not valid in Pennsylvania. However, Pennsylvania recognizes common law marriages established in other states where it is legal.

Do You Need a Prenup for Common Law Marriage?

While a prenup is not necessary for a common-law marriage, it can be beneficial in establishing the rights and obligations of each spouse. This can be especially important if the couple has significant assets or debts or wants to clarify their expectations regarding property division or spousal support during separation or divorce.

However, it's important to note that the terms of a prenup may not supersede the laws of a particular state, so it's essential to consult with a prenup lawyer to ensure that any agreement is legally enforceable.

What States in the USA Recognize Common Law Marriages?

As of 2023, only a handful of states in the USA recognize common-law marriage. The conditions that recognize common law marriage are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (if the relationship began before 1997)
  • Idaho (if the relationship began before 1996)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (inheritance only)
  • Ohio (if the relationship began before 10/10/91)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania (if the relationship began before 2005)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

The requirements for establishing a common law marriage vary by state. For example, in some states, couples must cohabit for a certain period, often several years, and hold themselves out as married.

In other states, common law marriage can be established through mutual agreement, among other factors. Moreover, in states where common law marriage is recognized, not all rights and benefits of marriage are automatically conferred upon the couple.

Contact a Family Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Prenup.

In summary, a prenup can be a valuable tool for couples who want to protect their assets and plan for the future. While it is possible to write your own prenup, working with a prenup lawyer can help ensure it complies with Pennsylvania law and is fair to both parties.

If you are considering a prenup, I encourage you to contact a family lawyer to discuss your options. High Swartz has law offices in Doylestown and Norristown, PA. Our attorneys at law can help draft a prenuptial agreement that complies with Pennsylvania laws.

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