Prenup

New Orleans Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers

Experienced family law advocacy for clients in New Orleans, Slidell, and throughout Louisiana

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Prenuptial agreements are legal and enforceable in Louisiana – provided specific requirements are met. While “prenups” are not considered romantic by most newlyweds, they are an invaluable tool for protecting yourself, your children, and your future. By entering into a prenuptial agreement, you can avoid having to litigate or resolve complicated issues in the event of a death or divorce.

At The Law Office of James A. Graham, our New Orleans divorce lawyers are ready to answer your questions about when and why you should have a prenup.  We’ll review your financial interests and those of your spouse so you understand the agreement, create agreements that work for you, and represent you in enforcement actions. Call us in New Orleans or Slidell today to learn more.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

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A prenuptial agreement is a written contract. The parties to the contract are the two people who are getting ready to marry each other. The agreement determines how the assets and debts of the spouses will be divided if they divorce or if a spouse dies. The prenup becomes effective when the people marry.

Prenuptial agreements are used to determine the property division and spousal support issues. By signing the prenup, the spouses essentially waive all rights to file a property division claim or a spousal support claim if they divorce.

Generally, the prenup resolves the following issues in the event of a divorce:

  • Which spouse keeps which assets
  • How any assets will be valued
  • Whether either spouse must reimburse the other spouse in any way
  • Whether a spouse can claim spousal support – and if so, what the amount of the spousal support will be
  • What property can be disposed of in the event of a divorce

Prenups are not used to determine child custody or child support because these issues must be based on what is in the best interests of the children at the time of the divorce.

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When should I consider a prenuptial agreement?

While prenuptial agreements are considered unromantic by many, there is a different point of view. This view says that people who resolve their financial issues ahead of time are better prepared to focus only on their marriage.

People who are engaged to be married may consider a prenuptial agreement if:

  • One or both spouses have children from a prior marriage or a prior relationship
  • Either spouse has his/her own business
  • Either spouse has any assets of significant value such as a home, cars, bank accounts, jewelry, art, or other items of value
  • Either spouse was divorced before and understands how upsetting it can be to negotiate the financial divorce issues instead of moving on with his/her life and paying for the resolution of the disputes
  • Each spouse  wants to be sure that if they contribute to the other spouse’s education that they’ll be compensated for their investment of money, work, and time
  • One spouse has more debt than the other
  • One spouse earns much more income than the other spouse
  • A party to the prenup has heirlooms or other items of value through an inheritance or through family gifts
  • One spouse has substantial health problems
  • Either spouse is concerned about how much retirement benefits he/she can keep

All these reasons for requesting a prenup are reasonable concerns. It can be healthy to have a discussion about finances before the marriage starts. The agreement should address and clarify these terms in the agreement – such as what property a child from a prior marriage should receive in the event of the death of one of the spouses.

When can a prenuptial agreement be enforced in New Orleans?

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Generally, prenuptial agreements are legal and enforceable in Louisiana if certain requirements are met:

  • The prenuptial agreement is in writing
  • Both parties signed the prenuptial agreement
  • The spouses are of legal age
  • The contract is properly notarized and witnessed

Prenups should be recorded with the local parish's conveyance office. When the spouses live in different parishes, the agreement should be recorded in both parishes. If the agreement involves real property, the agreement must also be recorded in the parish where the property is located.

When can a prenuptial agreement be challenged in New Orleans?

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Our attorneys also understand what conditions must be met so that a prenup is valid. We also represent spouses who seek to invalidate a prenup so that their marital property and spousal support issues can be reviewed by the family court. The challenges generally include asserting that one of the requirements listed above was not met. Other challenges we may raise include asserting that:

  • Your spouse did not fully or properly disclose his/her assets, the value of his/her business, the existence or value of any retirement benefits, the amount of his/her income, and other issues.
  • A spouse was not mentally competent when he/she signed the prenup.
  • The prenup was entered into under threat of serious injury, duress, or fraud.

We may assert other arguments to invalidate a prenup depending on the circumstances.

The court could invalidate the entire agreement. They might invalidate just the invalid parts (such as if the agreement includes a determination of child custody).

How does a prenuptial agreement differ from a postnuptial agreement?

The purpose of a postnuptial agreement, or “postnup,” is essentially the same as a prenuptial agreement – to resolve the marital property and spousal issues in the event of a divorce. A postnuptial agreement can be filed any time after the marriage but does require a court order and a hearing.

Normally, spouses consider a postnup if there is a major change in circumstances. These changes can include the birth or adoption of a child, an inheritance, a business that succeeds (or doesn’t succeed), a spouse who gets into debt, or many other reasons. A court must pre-approve a postnuptial agreement.

Do you have a property division lawyer near me?

The Law Office of James A. Graham has two office locations in South Louisiana:

We discuss your family law concerns by phone or video conference when necessary.

Count on our experienced New Orleans attorneys to protect your rights

At the Law Office of James A. Graham, we help clients make the right choices for their future. We’ll help you understand your marital property and spousal support rights when you divorce – so you’ll know what you might be giving away by signing a prenuptial agreement. Please call or fill out our contact form now to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer in New Orleans or Slidell.