North Carolina enacted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act on July 1, 1987. Click here to read the entire Act.
The official commentary to the North Carolina Uniform Premarital Agreement Act notes: “The number of marriages between persons previously married and the number of marriages between persons each of whom is intending to continue to pursue a career is steadily increasing. For these and other reasons, it is becoming more and more common for persons contemplating marriage to seek to resolve by agreement certain issues presented by the forthcoming marriage. However, despite a lengthy legal history for these premarital agreements, there is a substantial uncertainty as to the enforceability of all, or a portion, of the provisions of these agreements and a significant lack of uniformity of treatment of these agreements among the states. The problems caused by this uncertainty and non-uniformity are greatly exacerbated by the mobility of our population. Nevertheless, this uncertainty and non-uniformity seem reflective not so much of basic policy differences between the states but rather a result of spasmodic, reflexive response to varying factual circumstances at different times. Accordingly, uniform legislation conforming to modern social policy which provides both certainty and sufficient flexibility to accommodate different circumstances would appear to be both a significant improvement and a goal realistically capable of achievement.” Source: Official Commentary provided by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws
North Carolina’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs “premarital agreements” which are limited by definition to “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” The premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. The premarital agreement becomes effective upon the marriage of the parties. Notably North Carolina’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act does not apply to (a) agreements between persons who live together but who do not contemplate marriage or who do not marry; (b) Postnuptial Agreements; or (c) Separation Agreements. What issues may couples address in a North Carolina Premarital Agreement? The North Carolina Uniform Premarital Agreement Act broadly allows couples to address these issues:
- The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;
- The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
- The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
- The modification or elimination of spousal support;
- The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
- The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
- The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
- Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
Notably, the North Carolina Uniform Premarital Agreement Act does not allow couples to address child support.
A thoughtfully crafted North Carolina premarital agreement gives couples equal control over these issues from the beginning and they are not left wondering what rules or, for that matter, what laws will apply if the marriage ends in divorce at some unknown date in the future. Remember, legislators and appellate courts are constantly revising the laws related to divorce, so the divorce laws on the date of your marriage may not be the same divorce laws on the date of your separation or divorce. And, for spouses with children from prior marriages, a well drafted premarital agreement gives couples the opportunity to preserve assets for these children if the new relationship ends for reasons other than divorce – death for example.
Monty Beck, a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Family Law, will help you avoid unwanted surprises and issues that could potentially stress the relationship between spouses, and help you consider areas where your spousal rights may be abridged in the event of unprotected crisis. Monty can also call on other attorneys in his firm to assist you with the estate planning aspects that should be considered in conjunction with the premarital agreement. If you feel you may need a premarital agreement for your new life together, call Monty Beck and let him and his firm help you create a strong foundation to build your future upon.