Prenuptial and Cohabitation Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by two people who plan to marry but want to provide for how assets will be divided in the event they divorce. They are generally used when one of the potential spouses has substantial wealth in comparison to the other one.  They are also common in second marriages where one or both parties want to preserve assets for their respective children.

Cohabitation agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements, but are entered into between two people who decide to live together without marriage. A cohabitation contract clearly establishes who owns which assets and how joint income and assets will be divided if the relationship breaks up.

Elements to include in prenuptial and cohabitation agreements

In order for a court to uphold such agreements as valid, they must include:

  • A full disclosure of each person’s assets: If some assets are hidden, a divorcing spouse may claim that if there had been full disclosure, he or she would not have entered into the agreement.
  • A full disclosure that income is expected to significantly increase in the future: If the increase was expected at the time the agreement was entered into but not disclosed, the court will likely invalidate the agreement.

It is also essential that both parties to have their own attorney to review the agreement. If one attorney prepares the agreement and there is a later divorce, one of the spouses may challenge the agreement as favoring the other one and that the objecting spouse signed under duress.

The agreement is more likely to be enforced if it is signed well in advance of the actual date of the marriage. Agreements signed the night before or even a few days before the actual marriage date are more likely to be invalidated than those signed 30 or 60 days prior to the marriage.

Kathryn Jenkins Has the Experience You Need

Kathryn Jenkins has years of experience as a family law attorney. She has prepared prenuptial and cohabitation agreements that have been validated by courts. She has also successfully challenged the validity of such agreements. Although there are no guarantees in the law, choosing an attorney who has experience on both sides increases your chances of having an agreement that will stand up to a court challenge.

You can reach Kathryn Jenkins, Seattle Attorney at Law, by calling her at (206) 679-4935.