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Benefits and limitations of a prenuptial agreement

Aug 16, 2021 | Divorce

A prenuptial agreement has many benefits for West Virginia couples. Not only can it protect both parties legally in the case of a marital breakdown, but it is also a great tool for communicating expectations at the start of a marriage. However, when considering the prospect of a prenuptial agreement, it is important that both parties understand what this document can and cannot be used for in the future. There are clear limitations on prenuptial agreements, and knowing these can help steer conversation to the most relevant issues. 

First, here are some of the benefits of a prenuptial agreement: 

  • Protecting the business interests of each spouse 
  • Safeguarding oneself from debts being brought into the marriage 
  • Helps determine expectations with regards to alimony 
  • Limiting how finances can be considered comingled versus separate 

These are very strong benefits that are certainly worthwhile for many soon-to-marry couples to explore. That said, there are some limits to a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement cannot, for example: 

  • Determine child custody, child support, or visitation (the best interest of the child is will determine these matters) 
  • Greatly benefit one party over the other (agreements that do so can be ruled as invalid) 
  • Penalize certain behaviors, such as infidelity 

Agreements about the above-listed issues will not be upheld legally without being formally approved. In fact, if the agreement is not considered fair, the entire document could be rendered invalid. It is therefore important to work with a West Virginia lawyer to ensure that a prenuptial agreement maximizes the benefits while steering clear of issues that would not be considered reasonable to include under the law.