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What aspects of marriage are included in prenuptial agreements?

With today's divorce rates, many couples are now opting for prenuptial agreements. While some may find it awkward to talk to their fiancé about a contract which, in essence, lays down provisions in case the marriage ends, prenuptial agreements have proven to be practical for many.

Prenuptial agreements are especially beneficial to people who have amassed a lot more wealth than their spouses. In case of divorce, Virginia law prescribes an equitable distribution of assets. Prenuptial agreements can thus help spouses protect assets that they have acquired prior to the marriage.

Additionally, divorce rates are higher for second and subsequent marriages. Prenuptial agreements may safeguard the interests of children from previous marriages. Property division can often become a bitter uphill battle in a divorce proceeding.

Settlements can become even more caustic in cases where one spouse is emotionally attached to a certain asset, such as a family heirloom or a piece of art. Prenuptial agreements can enumerate the list of assets that can be protected from a divorce proceeding. Prenuptial agreements, in addition to safeguarding one's assets, may also protect one spouse from the debt accumulated by the other.

While prenuptial agreements can encompass a variety of clauses, some provisions cannot be included in the agreement under Virginia law. Issues regarding visitation, child support and child custody are determined in the courts and no one else has the power to make a legal document against it, therefore these issues cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. Couples also cannot include clauses regarding a waiver of spousal support in case of a divorce.

Source:, "What Can and Cannot be Included in Prenuptial Agreements," accessed on Sept. 11, 2014

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