Premarital Agreements

NC Premarital AgreementNorth Carolina adopted a version of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act and our version of the act is is applicable to any premarital agreement executed on or after July 1, 1987.

A premarital agreement is a documents signed by parties  in anticipation of marriage that  addressees what will happen in the event of divorce of a spouse or death of a spouse.

Unlike a regular contract, a premarital agreement is enforceable without the exchange of consideration by the parties.  Consideration was a traditional element of contracts under the common law and, in essence, meant that the parties must bargain for and exchange something of value before a valid contract is created.  In family law, North Carolina has abandoned this common law requirement both in premarital agreements and separation agreements.

Although consideration is not required, a valid premarital agreement under the premarital agreement act must have certain qualities:

  • A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
  • A premarital agreement is effective upon marriage and marriage is a prerequisite of an effective premarital agreement.  This means that if the parties do not marry the premarital agreement is not valid.
  •  Premarital agreements may dispose of their property upon divorce through the provisions of the agreement rather than by equitable distribution.
  • Premarital agreements under North Carolina law may control rights and obligations in property, whenever and wherever acquired or located.
  • “Property” is defined as “an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, including income and earnings.”
  • Premarital Agreements may control the right to sell, transfer, buy, use, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property.
  • Premarital agreements may bar alimony and postseparation support and attorneys fees under certain circumstances.
  • Premarital agreements may control the making of a will or trust to carry out the agreement.
  • Premarital agreements may impact ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit in a life insurance policy.
  • A premarital agreement may define which law applies to it.
  • Finally, a premarital agreement may control “Any other matter, including personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a criminal statute.”
Premarital agreements can be attacked under certain circumstances.  Here is an excellent article that deals generally with attacking agreements under the UPAA.
Family law attorney Scott Allen drafts, negotiates, and litigates premarital agreements and has over seventeen years of experience.  If you have questions or need assistance call him at (919) 863-4183 or email at sallen@allenspence.com.