Prenups in Pennsylvania
A Prenuptial Agreement (entered into before marriage) is a contract between two people who are anticipating marriage. It outlines either generally, or in great detail, how property is categorized and divided in case of a divorce.
- In Pennsylvania, marital property is defined in as, “all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property” (Reference 23 Pa. C.S.A. Â§3501)
There are statutory exceptions that exclude certain types of property from being considered in the prenup.
- One of these exceptions is “property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage” This allows the parties to contract out of the marital property distribution in a prenup agreement. (Reference 23. Pa. C.S.A. Â§3501(a)(2))
A professionally crafted prenuptial agreement allows both parties to retain all of their individual property and its increase in value. Your prenuptial agreement can:
- Define how marital property will be divided
- Set terms for spousal support and/or alimony
- Lay out how a divorce will be filed and finalized, eliminating the need for litigation.
Debt Can Be Addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement
More often than not, a married couple will acquire debt during a marriage, some joint, some individual. Some married couples will acquire vast debt.
Like assets, debt can also be dealt with in a prenuptial agreement. This can be especially important if one party, or the other, brings significant debt into the marriage.
There are two basic areas that must be addressed for a prenuptial agreement to be deemed valid.
- First is full disclosure of assets and debts. If one party does not provide the other with a full and accurate picture of their financial situation, the contract can be determined to be invalid because the other party lacked this information. This means you cannot simply say, “I get to keep all my stuff no matter what it is, how much it is worth or where it is at.”
- The second is access to separate counsel. Both parties must have full opportunity to seek advice of separate attorneys prior to signing the prenuptial agreement. This means you cannot give a prenuptial agreement to the other party the morning of the wedding and ask them to sign it and expect it to be considered a valid contract.
Prenuptial agreements, traditionally, were considered as only for extremely wealthy people or celebrities.
With the increase in the divorce rate in the United States, prenups are now an effective tool for everyone to protect property rights.
There is also the perception that the party who requests a prenuptial agreement is expecting the marriage to end in divorce. A prenuptial agreement should be considered as nothing more than an insurance policy to protect both parties and the assets and income that they have worked hard to create.
Harold Shepley & Associates Can Help
At Harold Shepley and Associates, LLC, we have experience dealing with situations of both debt and bankruptcy and divorce. We are a full-service law firm that is client-oriented and will work hard to meet your personal needs in resolving debt.
Call us today at 877-827-9006, or complete our easy to use contact form. We’re ready to help.