Atlanta High-Asset Marital Agreement Attorneys
Helping You Protect Your Property Pre and Post-Marriage
Today, more people than ever are entering into marital agreements either before or after tying the knot with their spouse - and with good reason. Establishing a pre or postnuptial marital agreement enables you and your spouse to protect your property and establish a more equitable union.
In marriages where one or both parties possess significantly valuable assets, marital agreements are a vital safeguard for both parties.
Our Atlanta high-asset marital agreement attorneys will work with you and your spouse's legal counsel to draft a comprehensive marital agreement that protects your property and rights. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (404) 882-7263.
What Are the Requirements to Get a Marital Agreement in GA?
Unlike many other states in the U.S., Georgia has not adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act. As such, what constitutes a legally enforceable pre or postnup in Georgia differs slightly from other states.
In Georgia, marital agreements must be in writing, and at least two witnesses must be present when the spouses sign the agreement. In addition, you must meet the following requirements if you want to draft a marital agreement in Georgia:
- Both spouses must be at least 16 years old and mentally competent;
- Neither spouse can be engaged in another marriage;
- The spouses must not be related to each other.
To draft a marital agreement, both spouses must find a separate lawyer to represent them. They must also disclose all property they own to each other - this includes liabilities, such as credit card debt, as well as assets.
After disclosing their property holdings, the parties and their attorneys can negotiate to establish equitable terms for the marital agreement. Once the parties sign an agreement, either party or their attorneys can then file the agreement in the County Superior Court Clerk's Office where they reside, documenting and finalizing the marital agreement.
What Can a Marital Agreement Contain?
As most people know, the primary function of a marital agreement in most cases is to determine how the parties will distribute property in the event of a divorce.
However, that's not all a pre or postnup is capable of. You can also utilize a marital agreement to:
- Decide how you and your spouse will classify property during the marriage - for example, you can stipulate that certain property which would normally be marital assets or liabilities are instead the separate property of one party.
- Determine how to handle the end-date of alimony payments in the event of a divorce.
- Decide whether retirement funds should be considered marital assets in the event of a divorce.
- Classify how you and your spouse will handle the custody of shared pets if you file for a divorce.
However, marital agreements cannot contain terms for:
- How the parties will handle child custody in the event of a divorce; and
- Which party pays for or receives child support.
These issues are largely circumstantial, and courts handle them on a case-by-case basis. It's almost impossible for a couple to predict what kind of child custody or support arrangement would be equitable in the future, so a pre or postnup cannot contain terms for those arrangements.
Contesting a Marital Agreement in Georgia
An individual can contest the legality of a marital agreement if:
- They entered the agreement while under duress, through fraud, or signed the agreement as a mistake;
- Either party failed to fully disclose their property holdings during the drafting of the agreement;
- The court determines that the terms of the agreement are unconscionable (blatantly unfair to one party).
It's important to note that the court may consider an agreement unconscionable if either spouse has experienced a significant change in circumstances since signing the prenup.
For example, if one spouse enters the marriage holding valuable property and the agreement reflects those holdings, but that spouse loses that property during the marriage, the agreement may be unenforceable.
For this reason, it's typically a good idea for spouses that have a marital agreement to reconsider the terms of the agreement every so often and make any necessary changes to ensure the agreement remains equitable.
Why Should a High-Asset Couple or Party Get a Marital Agreement?
For individuals or couples that possess valuable property, a marital agreement can be even more crucial than in other circumstances.
If you or your partner has valuable property holdings, you may want to consider a pre or postnup because:
- It helps you determine your partner's financial situation. Many people fail to fully disclose their finances to one another while dating, and even after getting engaged. If your spouse has assets or liabilities you aren't aware of, they'll disclose them to you while drafting a marital agreement. While discussing finances is almost never comfortable, understanding your partner's financial standing is vital if you want to maintain an equitable marriage.
- It prevents you from receiving a punishing outcome in a property division case. Georgia is an "equitable distribution" state, meaning that courts don't have to divide property equally between parties - just “fairly.” As a result, individuals with valuable property are often significantly penalized during property division cases under the assumption they can take the financial hit or get back on their feet more easily than their less financially stable partner. A marital agreement can prevent you from being excessively penalized by the court.
- It sets alimony boundaries. If you want to support your partner for the rest of their life in the event of a divorce, you can stipulate that in your prenup. If you don't, you can also state as much. As a result, you'll end up with an alimony arrangement that you're comfortable with.
At Harmon Caldwell, our Atlanta high-asset marital agreement attorneys can work with you to develop a marital agreement that protects your property and helps you maintain an equitable union with your spouse.
To schedule a consultation with our team and receive the legal counsel you deserve, contact us online or via phone at (404) 882-7263.