Agreements Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a living together
agreement and a premarital agreement?
Couples who want to live together but have no intention
of getting married benefit from signing a living together agreement. It
creates a framework for non-married couples to handle money and property
issues while they live together and if they should separate.
On the other hand, a couple about to be married may make
an agreement concerning certain aspects of their relationship after they
marry. This agreement might cover their responsibilities and property
rights during marriage. But more likely, it will determine how property
will be divided and whether alimony will be paid in the event the couple
later divorces. These agreements are also called antenuptial or
Are there rules about what can or cannot be
included in a premarital agreement?
A law called the Uniform Pre-Marital Agreement Act
provides legal guidelines for people who wish to make agreements prior
to marriage regarding ownership, management and control of property;
property disposition on separation, divorce and death; alimony; wills;
and life insurance beneficiaries.
States that haven't adopted the Act (or that have made
some changes to it) have other laws, which often differ from the Act in
only minor ways. One important difference is that a few states do not
allow premarital agreements to modify or eliminate the right of a spouse
to receive court-ordered alimony at divorce. However, the California
Supreme Court recently clarified its stance on this issue in Pendleton
v. Fireman, finding that waivers of spousal support do not
automatically violate public policy when they are entered into
voluntarily by well-educated, intelligent people who are both
represented by counsel. Other states have their own quirky laws --
Maine, for example, voids all premarital agreements one and one half
years after the parties to the contract become parents, unless the
agreement is renewed.
That Have Adopted the Uniform Pre-Marital Agreement
Can my fiancé and I
make our premarital agreement without a lawyer?
You can look up the laws for your state and write your
agreement yourselves. If you'd like to draft a contract on your
own, we recommend that you have an attorney look it over to make sure
you've followed the law.
How do we convert our living together
contract into a premarital agreement?
Follow these steps:
Use your upcoming marriage as an opportunity to take another look
at your agreement, and make any agreed-upon updates and changes.
Rewrite your agreement. Call it a premarital or prenuptial
agreement, and state that it is made in contemplation of marriage
and does not take effect until you marry.
Because there is no good self-help resource in this area, and
because even a small mistake can result in your agreement later
being held unenforceable, have your agreement checked out by a
Sign the document in front of a notary.