A prenuptial agreement is a contract that couples enter into prior to marriage. This type of agreement contemplates how the future couple will divide assets and debts should the parties separate or divorce.
In Washington, there is no formal statute that sets forth the rules relating to the validity or enforceability of a prenuptial agreement. Instead, the court will apply the principles of contract law to interpret the prenuptial agreement.
Generally, Washington courts require a prenuptial agreement to meet the bare minimum of the following factors:
- The agreement must be in writing.
- The agreement must be executed in contemplation of marriage.
- The agreement must be signed by both parties in the presence of a public notary.
- The agreement must be signed by each party’s attorney certifying that their respective client understood the terms of the agreement and signed voluntarily.
- The agreement must contain full disclosure of each party’s assets, debts, and income sources such that the prenuptial agreement is fair in both substance and procedure.
Some examples of substantive and procedural fairness are as follows:
- Fair and reasonable provisions for the party not seeking enforcement
- Proportional benefit between the parties
- Restrictions on the creation of community property
- Prohibitions on the distribution of separate property during divorce
- Economic means of each party
- Preclusion of community and/or separate property rights
- Limitations on inheritance
- Limitations on accumulation of separate property
- Adequate Financial Disclosure
- Independent Counsel
- Fraud or Duress
- Violation of public policy
- Signed well in advance of the marriage
If you are considering a prenuptial agreement it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney who will explain your options and rights. Our office represents clients on both spectrums. We draft prenuptial agreements or serve as independent counsel to ensure that the prenuptial agreement is valid, fair, and enforceable.
Call us today for a consultation and case evaluation at (253) 753-2261