Small-Firm Care. Large-Firm Experience & Power.

Help With Drafting And Reviewing Prenups In Blount County & East Tennessee

Prenuptial agreements, commonly called prenups, are contracts you and your fiancée set up prior to your marriage. Your prenup sets out in advance how things like property and assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. In the same vein, a postnuptial agreement (postnup) does the same thing, except you and your spouse sign the agreement after you’re married. Some people believe signing a prenuptial agreement is bad luck and unromantic. However, a solid prenup can provide you and your spouse needed peace of mind and security as you start off your life together. Here’s why.

During a divorce or legal separation, dividing your assets and property can get complicated or even contentious. Whether you have a lot of things to split up or even just a few, your possessions are important to you, and your shared financial assets must be divided equitably. Pre- and postnups ensure everything ends up where it belongs. The Maryville divorce attorneys at Shepherd & Long can help you draft a thorough and fair prenuptial agreement.

What exactly is a prenuptial agreement?

Very few couples have divorce on their mind when newly engaged. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a prenup as part of your wedding planning. A prenup or postnup provides protection to both you and your future spouse from many future unknown events. Some of the advantages of this legal contract include:

  • Distinguishes between separate property (“mine”) from joint property (“ours”)
  • Protects the financial interests of children from previous marriages
  • Protects one spouse from personal debts of the other
  • Protects ownership interests in large assets like business or real estate

In the event of a divorce, the court typically follows the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement as a guide when dividing up property and assets. The postnuptial agreement is just like a prenuptial agreement, but you and your spouse create it after you’re already married. Reasons a couple might want a postnuptial agreement is if they accumulate significant assets or wealth during their marriage. It’s also important to sit down with your Maryville attorney from time to time to review your agreement to ensure it’s still up to date.

What is a postnuptial agreement?

Postnups are mostly the same as prenups – the only difference is the time you sign them. You and your spouse might consider a postnuptial agreement after changes in property and assets in the marriage. For example, you may now have a successful business as a married couple and want to set some protections in place for the future – how you will divide the business in the event of a divorce, or what will happen to the business in the event of one or both of your deaths.

Again, it’s important to remember that if you don’t have a legal agreement or estate plan in place, the court will distribute assets as they see fit.

What can you put in a prenuptial agreement?

You and your partner can negotiate the terms of your prenup or postnup together, and can put just about whatever you want in the contract. However, there are some limits and restrictions.

Things you may include in a prenup:

  • Directives for distribution of assets and property in the event of a divorce
  • Instruction to keep valuable property and heirlooms within the family
  • Guidance for your and your spouse’s estate plan that dovetails with your other family law documents
  • Protection from your soon-to-be spouse’s debts
  • Protections and provisions for children from previous relationships and marriages

Things you may not include in a prenup:

  • Anything calling for illegal activity, which can invalidate the entire agreement
  • Any directives for child support and child custody
  • Provisions that may incentivize divorce for either party
  • Any provisions the court may view as grossly unfair

The East Tennessee attorneys at Shepherd & Long can review your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to ensure it’s both valid and equitable.

How do I know if my prenup is valid and enforceable?

A prenuptial agreement is useless if it’s not valid. A court will not find a prenup legitimate if it wasn’t signed voluntarily or under duress. Your prenup won’t be enforceable, either, if the court finds that significant assets were not disclosed in the document.

Unlike many states, Tennessee does not use the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA) when determining whether or not a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is enforceable and legitimate. The UPAA establishes some standard rules on how to make these decisions, as well as deciding whether or a party violated the contract.

According to Tennessee law, a Maryville prenup will not be enforceable if one of the spouses can prove that they didn’t sign the agreement voluntarily or with full knowledge of the other spouse’s financial situation. To challenge a prenup or postnup, you need strong, experienced representation.

What happens if you don’t sign a prenuptial agreement?

Only you can decide whether you want to sign a prenup. With a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can bypass the default regulations set out by Tennessee civil law. You can negotiate splitting assets in advance instead of letting the court decide for you at a later date, when tensions may be running high.

If you choose not to sign an agreement and later get divorced, you may lose some of the property and assets you wanted. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means the court divides property in an equitable and fair manner – not 50/50. However, this equitable distribution could mean your rightful property ending up with your spouse instead. Additionally, a well-crafted prenup can outline any actions to take in the event one spouse dies prematurely.

Determining whether or not to sign is a personal decision and must be taken seriously. Our attorneys can give you the information you need.

Maryville Prenuptial Attorneys Help Protect Your Future

Prenups and postnups are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they are a practical idea to protect yourself and your children in the event of the unexpected. And, the family law attorneys at Shepherd & Long have combined decades of experience helping people like you plan for the future. Get in touch with us today to learn more. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call us at 865-383-3118 or fill out our contact form. We regularly represent clients in Madisonville, Oak Ridge, Lenoir City and throughout East Tennessee.