A prenuptial agreement is a contract that two people may draft and execute prior to their marriage. In it they may make certain decisions about how they will categorize certain items of property, what financial obligations they will be bound to if they divorce, and what responsibilities each will have during the tenure of their marital relationship. In Washington and other states throughout the country, prenuptial agreements can be invalidated if they were created through force, duress or otherwise compelled by one of the parties to the detriment of the other.
Therefore, a prenuptial agreement can have a lot of influence on certain topics relevant to a divorce. A prenuptial agreement may dictate how spousal support should be paid and for how long. It may explain what property is considered separate and what is marital for the purposes of dividing it in a divorce-related settlement. It may also describe the ways in which debts should be paid in the event the party's marriage does not last.
These are only some of the topics that prenuptial agreements can address and it is a good idea for individuals considering prenups to discuss their questions and concerns with their attorneys. Certain provisions may not be included in prenuptial agreements, such as how child custody matters may be worked out and if they are included in such documents divorce courts may strike down those provisions.
A prenuptial agreement may help a couple save some time and money if their marriage comes to an end by having some issues sorted out in advance of the divorce. However, it is not a completely controlling document and therefore divorcing parties may still have many issues to work out before their relationships can be completely severed.