A premarital agreement - a prenup - is a legally binding way for new partners to define their legal claims in case of a divorce. A prenup may seem cold in the rosy glow of nascent love, but in the harsh light of the courtroom there is only what is written in the law and what the participants have agreed upon.
A prenup can be useful if you want to specify any inheritance rights for children of previous marriages, division of assets from a business or professional practice, how pre-existing debt will be handled, or compensation if one partner gives up a lucrative career.
Specific prenup laws in Pennsylvania
Here's what a prenup in Pennsylvania can cover:
- Right to property
- Claims for spousal support
- Division of property and debt
- A spouse's right to buy and sell assets during the marriage
- Rights to gifts
- Business matters
- Insurance claims
Here's what a prenup in Pennsylvania cannot cover:
- Child support
- Child custody
- Waivers to alimony
- Religious upbringing
- Provisions detailing anything illegal
- Financial provisions encouraging divorce
- Details about personal rather than financial matters
Lack of full and fair disclosure
In Pennsylvania, prenups are presumed to be valid at the time of a divorce. There are a few occasions when the prenup can be invalidate.
One obstacle is if one of the spouses can prove that they were coerced into signing the document.
Another is if there wasn't a full and fair disclosure of assets and debts. For this to make the agreement "unconscionable," the spouse must have hidden assets or debts, the spouse claiming fraud didn't waive rights to disclose finances, and the spouse claiming fraud didn't know about the undisclosed finances.