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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.

    Partner

    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy

    Partner

    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros

    Partner

    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Types of Marital Agreements Available in Virginia

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While no one wants to think about divorce while planning their wedding, the truth is that marital agreements can be beneficial in the unfortunate event the marriage breaks down and the couple is headed for divorce. There are two main types of marital agreements available in Virginia. The first is drafted prior to marriage and the second is an agreement made once the couple is already married.

Before signing a marital agreement of any kind, you need to meet with a knowledgeable Virginia family law attorney. This will help you determine whether the document meets Virginia’s legal requirements. Having a skilled attorney draft the marital agreement is recommended as the attorney will protect your assets and he or she may bring up topics you may not have even considered on your own. 

Types of Marital Agreements

In the past, prenuptial agreements were something that only the wealthier people drafted as a way to protect their assets when marrying. Today, prenuptial agreements, or prenups, are far more common with “regular” couples, because they can help reduce conflicts and save costs in the event of a divorce.

Prenups can dictate a number of different things:

  • Decide how marital assets will be divided at the time of divorce
  • Specify debt liability, which can include student loans, mortgage payments, credit card debt, etc.
  • Document the separate property like businesses, real estate, and retirement accounts
  • Set forth some rules for how financial circumstances will be handled should issues arise down the line
  • What happens in the event one party cheats on the other
  • Specify a change in circumstances if you have children together
  • Discuss potential spousal support
  • Set a time limit on the length of the agreement

Postnuptial agreements can discuss the same topics and issues, they just differ on when they are signed. As its name suggests, a postnuptial agreement is done once the couple is already married.

Virginia law is the same no matter whether you prepare the agreement before or after you get married. Both parties are required to sign and the agreement must be in writing. You can pretty much put anything in your marital agreement, just so long as it doesn’t violate public policy.

Involuntary Agreements 

Although not necessarily common, there are situations where an individual only signed the marital agreement under duress, because they were being threatened, or because someone used actual force. You can have a marital agreement deemed involuntary for coercion, but also due to failure to disclose all assets on both sides.

Things to Remember when Drafting a Marital Agreement

When you’re drafting a marital agreement, don’t lose sight of the reason why you’re drafting it. Focus on what assets you have now and don’t spend a lot of time hashing out custody and visitation of kids in your marital agreement, as the court may not give it much weight. Lastly, don’t sell yourself out of a future and always be firm on what your bottom line is.

Retaining a Virginia Family Law Attorney

If you’re considering a marital agreement, contact the skilled attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC to schedule a consultation and let us help you draft a fair marital agreement that will also stand up in court.

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