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How do prenuptial agreements affect a Washington divorce?

When a couple in Washington State chooses to get a divorce, there are many issues that will be decided as the process moves forward. Some people choose to take steps before they walk down the aisle to protect themselves in the event that the marriage doesn't work out by creating a prenuptial agreement. These are also referred to as "premarital agreements." While this post is not meant to be a replacement for legal advice, there are certain facts about these agreements that must be understood both before the marriage and when a divorce is underway.

When two people get married, they might decide to create prenuptial agreement. This is a document that will detail how their property will be split if they choose to end their marriage. Its details apply not just to a divorce, but also to a legal separation, annulment or if one of the spouses dies. In some instances, people will wait until they are already married to come to this agreement in which case it won't be a prenuptial agreement or a premarital agreement, but a marital agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are enforced by the court as long as it is deemed to have been drafted in a fair manner and both of the spouses have provided accurate and up-to-date information regarding their assets, finances and other properties. If there has been dishonesty about salary and other assets they might have hidden, then it's possible the agreement might not be enforceable.

A prenuptial agreement can dictate many different issues in a divorce including alimony and who will receive what property, including the family home. Sometimes people who have signed a prenuptial agreement might not have realized what they were signing. If the end of a marriage is in process and there are prenuptial agreements in effect, it is important to have a legal professional examine it and determine whether or not it is enforceable or if it can be disputed.

Source: courts.wa.gov, "Family Law Handbook, Chapter 2: Prenuptial Agreements," accessed on Jan. 13, 2015

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