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What a Prenup Can Do (And What it Can’t Do)

November 6, 2023

When couples stand at the brink of marriage, conversations about finances, assets, and potential future contingencies can seem unpleasant, if not outright unromantic. But in the complex socio-financial environment of the DMV area—covering Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia—being prepared can be priceless. Prenuptial agreements, or prenups, have grown in popularity as a tool to manage such complexities. However, while prenups are powerful, they have their limitations. 

At Bourdon & Tortolero, we’re dedicated to providing top-tier advice to the DMV community. Here, we dive into what a prenup can and cannot do.

The Power of a Prenup

Prenuptial agreements serve as contracts entered into by soon-to-be-married couples, outlining the management of assets, debts, and financial obligations during the marriage and in the event of divorce.

Protecting Individual Assets

Prenuptial agreements are particularly beneficial when it comes to protecting individual assets. They can clearly outline which assets were owned by each party before entering the marriage. 

By doing so, a prenup ensures that such property remains with its original owner in the event of a divorce, regardless of the equitable distribution laws in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. This can be especially important for people who come into a marriage with significant assets, family heirlooms, or properties. Not only does it provide financial clarity, but it also offers peace of mind, knowing that personal and cherished assets are protected regardless of how the marital relationship evolves.

Debt Clarity

Prenups can clarify debt responsibilities, ensuring that one partner isn’t unknowingly burdened with the other’s pre-marital debts.

Estate Plans

Estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial and legacy management, especially for those with substantial assets or intricate family dynamics. For those who have carefully crafted estate plans or trusts in place, a prenuptial agreement serves as an additional protective layer. The prenup can underscore that these plans are not overridden or disrupted by marital claims, ensuring that assets are distributed as per the individual’s wishes after their demise. This is important for people with children from prior relationships. A prenup can guarantee that specific assets or heirlooms go to these children, maintaining the integrity of the original estate plan and ensuring that your legacy is preserved and passed on as intended.

Prenup Limitations: The Case of Child Custody and Support

Decisions regarding children prioritize their best interests above all. As such, courts retain the authority to determine child custody and support based on the child’s welfare, current circumstances, and the parents’ capabilities at the time of the decision. Even if a prenup attempts to outline terms related to children, courts are not bound by these and will make judgments independently.

Contact a DMV Area Family Lawyer

Prenuptial agreements are a practical tool for couples seeking to manage financial matters proactively. 

If you’re in the DMV area and considering a prenuptial agreement or have questions about family law matters, contact Bourdon & Tortolero. With our in-depth knowledge of the unique intricacies of DC, Maryland, and Virginia laws, we’re ready to guide you every step of the way. 

Call us at (703) 646-8390 to make sure you’re making informed decisions that protect your future.

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