Worried about future legal problems in your marriage?

A prenup is never a romantic notion, but even in a trusting and committed relationship, there are possible scenarios in a marriage where you’ll need to protect yourself, your dependents, and your assets.

One of those situations is divorce.

Marriage is often thought of as a romantic union of love, but much more is involved in getting hitched. When you enter into a marriage relationship, you’re really entering into a legal agreement. In many ways, you and all of your assets are bound to this person “until death do you part.”

The good news is there are tools that can help protect you, your wealth, and your children should the worst happen. Reach out to a Rock Hill marital agreements attorney and ensure your interests are secure, no matter what happens.

What Is a Marital Agreement?

Marital agreements are simply legal contracts that outline the wishes of both parties and contain terms for how assets and other issues will be settled in the event of a death or a divorce.

Some common issues addressed in marital agreements include:

  • Spouses’ rights to both marital property and separate property
  • Spouses’ rights to buy, sell, or otherwise handle both separate and marital assets
  • Inheritances and gifts received by either spouse and each spouse’s rights to them
  • Entitlements to life insurance and death benefits
  • How assets will be allocated in the event of death or divorce
  • Alimony entitlements in the event of separation or divorce

A marital agreement can be drawn up and signed by both parties either before marriage (“prenuptial agreement”) or after the couple has married (“postnuptial agreement”).

For the contract to hold up in family court in South Carolina, it must be reasonably fair and signed voluntarily by both parties. Full disclosure of assets and liabilities must have been given by both spouses.

Who Should Have a Prenuptial Agreement?

One common misconception about prenuptial agreements is they’re only for the super-wealthy. The reality is there are many scenarios in which prenups could provide some much-needed peace of mind and security for the future.

Here are some examples.

There’s a Significant Wealth Difference Between Parties

Probably one of the most common reasons to get a prenup is when one person entering into the marriage has significantly more money than the other person. A prenup can allocate certain assets as “separate property” that will ensure those assets will not be divided as marital property in a divorce.

There’s a Significant Debt Difference Between Parties

It’s common nowadays for couples to enter into marriage with existing debt. Whether it’s student loans, credit card debt, business debts, or some other form of money owed, a prenuptial agreement can stipulate that certain existing or future debts are separate from marital debts and will not be shared if the couple gets divorced in the future.

An Inheritance Is Expected

If one or both individuals expect to inherit a significant amount of wealth—even if it’s far into the future—that inheritance can be separated from the marital property in a prenuptial agreement.

One or Both Parties Are Business Owners

Business assets can often represent a lot of future wealth. When one spouse has a stake in a business, it can cause many problems for many people in the future if the couple divorces and the asset is to be divided between the spouses. 

Detailing how business assets will be addressed in the event of death or divorce is crucial to keeping the business intact.

This Is a Second or Subsequent Marriage

When this isn’t your first marriage, or it’s not your partner’s first marriage, there can be some complications. For example, there may be some assets, debts, or financial complications—like alimony or child support—that you’d like to keep separate from the marital debts and assets.

There Are Existing Children From Previous Relationships

Suppose you or your partner have children from a previous marriage or relationship. In that case, it’s important to consider how your death or divorce may impact their future. Some couples decide to keep certain assets or funds separate from marital property to ensure they’re allocated to the children in the event of divorce or death.

When Is a Postnuptial Agreement a Good Idea?

Postnuptial agreements aren’t as common as prenuptial agreements. Still, they can offer some of the same protections and security prenups provide.

Some situations that could prompt a postnuptial agreement include:

  • The couple has had some marital problems and wants to ensure both parties are protected in the future.
  • The family has grown, and new children are a factor that wasn’t considered before the marriage.
  • One or both spouses have taken on new assets or new debts.
  • One spouse has been diagnosed with a severe illness, and future protections are needed.

What About Separation Agreements in South Carolina?

When a couple decides to legally separate but is not quite ready to start the divorce process, things can get complicated. Living in separate homes means expenses increase, and specific details regarding the couple’s children, assets, and support may need to be worked out.

A legal separation agreement can help detail all of the terms of the couple’s separation.

Child Custody Arrangements

If a married couple has children and the couple separates, both parents still have parental rights. Child custody and a parenting schedule need to be arranged so that those rights are observed.

Child Support and Alimony

If one parent has primary physical custody of the children, the other parent will likely need to pay child support to ensure the quality of life for the kids isn’t affected. Spousal support may also be appropriate if there’s an income disparity.

Division of Marital Property, Debts, and Expenses

In some cases, assets and property are divided when a couple legally separates. These details can be outlined in a separation agreement along with which spouse is responsible for paying which debts and expenses that the couple incurs.

Occupancy of the Marital Residence

A significant factor when a couple separates is who will keep living in the family home. If children are involved, this often means the parent with primary physical custody will remain. Still, a separation agreement can specify these arrangements.

Contact a Rock Hill Martial Agreements Lawyer Today

Marital agreements certainly aren’t swoon-worthy, but they are necessary tools to ensure a secure future when a couple enters into marriage or experiences significant life changes during their marriage.

If you need help drafting and completing a prenuptial, postnuptial, or separation agreement, you can trust an experienced Rock Hill marital agreements lawyer.

Okoye Law is a family-focused law firm specializing in family law practice areas like legal separation, divorce, and child custody.

Schedule an appointment, and we can offer sound legal advice to ensure your marital agreement is solid.


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FAQ: Rock Hill Marital Agreements

What cannot be included in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?

Marital agreements focus mainly on the financial matters of the spouses, so family-focused issues typically cannot be included. This includes child custody arrangements, visitation, and child support.

If a couple separates or divorces, a South Carolina family court judge will determine what the best interests of the child are and what the appropriate custody and support arrangements will be.

Are prenups set in stone?

In South Carolina, marital agreements are governed by case law and statutory rules. This means these agreements are treated in South Carolina courts just like any other legal contract.

Some situations in which prenup or postnup might get thrown out are if the agreement is one-sided or unfair, if there were threats or coercion involved in getting a spouse to sign, or if either spouse did not fully disclose their financial situation to the other spouse.

Does infidelity nullify a prenuptial agreement?

An act of infidelity in a marriage does not automatically get your prenup thrown out. You may, however, be able to include a lifestyle clause in your marital agreement that outlines what financial restitution will be paid or which assets will be protected should there be proof of adultery.

Another thing to consider is that South Carolina courts do not allow cheating spouses to receive alimony. If spousal support is a clause in your prenup, you may be able to get it thrown out if you can prove your spouse was unfaithful.