Written by Anthony Piccirilli
A prenuptial agreement is certainly not the most romantic topic to address as you’re preparing to walk down the aisle, but more couples are beginning to realize the benefits of these documents. They wisely recognize that it’s always important to be prepared for what the future brings, even as it affects marriage. However, though you’ve made the smart decision to consider a prenup, there can be multiple pitfalls along the way. Mistakes can nullify the entire point behind such an agreement, which is why your next decision should be retaining a prenuptial lawyer to assist with the process.
At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, we know you’re looking forward to your wedding day, which is why we’re happy to take the legal burdens of creating a prenup off your shoulders. To schedule a consultation of your case with a Pittsburgh prenup attorney, call (412) 471-5100 today, or reach out through the online form.
Common PA Prenuptial Mistakes
Five mistakes frequently made during the prenup process include:
Failing to Follow Statutory Requirements
By law, there are multiple requirements for a valid prenup in Pennsylvania:
- The agreement must be in writing
- Both parties must voluntarily sign it
- The agreement must be based on full disclosure of each person’s financial situation
The statute is written from the standpoint of enforceability, so a prenup will not be upheld unless these requirements are met. In practice, it would be up to the party contesting the validity of the agreement to prove that any of the essential elements are missing.
Misunderstanding the Waiver of Full Disclosure
There is one exception to the disclosure requirement described above, where a party may expressly waive it in writing. To avoid making an error with respect to this issue, it’s important to understand how such a situation would work. If you waive full disclosure, your spouse-to-be doesn’t have to reveal anything about assets or obligations. In the event of divorce, you could be giving up important rights – or be on the hook for significant debt. Through a waiver, you forego your ability to contest these issues in the event of a divorce.
Not Seeking Legal Help
Like any contract that confers legal rights and responsibilities, you should have an attorney review your prenuptial agreement. For one, a lawyer could point out any of the mistakes that appear on this list. Plus, you can get a detailed explanation of each provision and the overall effect of the prenup.
Retaining the Same Prenuptial Lawyer
This mistake involves using the same attorney to represent both parties. You may think you’re saving money by not obtaining separate lawyers, but it’s a clear conflict of interests. A lawyer cannot protect you while also advising your partner. In truth, attorneys will typically not take on such representation because of ethical considerations, but it’s an important point to note.
Addressing Prohibited Topics
Though you do have some flexibility in what you can put in a prenup, some subjects are off-limits. They include:
- Child Custody and Visitation – During divorce proceedings, a court must determine care for minor children in accordance with the child’s best interests. A prenup cannot be used to deviate from the statutory requirements on custody and visitation, even if both parties agree.
- Child Support – As with other issues regarding minor children, child support is governed by PA law. You cannot make these arrangements through a prenup, and a court will apply the appropriate formulas to determine the amount you owe.
Avoid Common Mistakes by Working with a Skilled Prenuptial Lawyer
Your decision to create a prenuptial agreement is a wise one, so don’t follow it up by making critical errors that affect an agreement’s enforceability. By working with a Pittsburgh prenuptial attorney, you can avoid mistakes and ensure the final product is an arrangement that reflects your intentions. For more information on prenuptial agreements in Pennsylvania, contact Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC. We can set up a consultation to advise you on prenups and answer any questions you have about the process. Call (412) 471-5100 today, or reach out online to schedule a free, initial case consultation.