Washington Prenuptial Agreement – Laws

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A Washington prenuptial agreement is a document used to convey the distribution of property should a marriage end in divorce. Before two individuals marry, a premarital contract can be executed to clarify property rights and ownership, management of family business, alimony and other support payments, life insurance benefits, and other financial responsibilities. A prenuptial agreement comes into effect if the couple divorces or one of them dies. Having this type of contract in place could help the couple avoid a lengthy and costly legal battle. However, even with a prenuptial agreement in place, the document can still be challenged and may be looked over by a court of law. Certain factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether or not a prenup is fair, such as the age of both parties, their income, the nature of the execution, and of course the terms of the agreement.

Signing Requirements (Marriage of Matson, 107 Wn. 2d 479 (1986)) – Only required to have both spouses sign the agreement However, it’s recommended to have the document notarized or witnessed.

Laws

CaseMarriage of Matson, 107 Wn. 2d 479 (1986)

Although prenuptial agreements are not directly authorized by statute, we have long recognized the right of the members of a prospective marital community to contract between themselves regarding their property.

CaseIn re Bernard, 165 Wn. 2d 895 (2009)

To determine the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement, this court undertakes a two-prong analysis.

Under the first prong, the court determines whether the agreement is substantively fair, specifically whether it makes reasonable provision for the spouse not seeking to enforce it.

If, however, the agreement is substantively unfair to the spouse not seeking enforcement, the court proceeds to the second prong. Under the second prong, the court determines whether the agreement is procedurally fair by asking two questions: (1) whether the spouses made a full disclosure of the amount, character, and value of the property involved and (2) whether the agreement was freely entered into on independent advice from counsel with full knowledge by both spouses of their rights.

Community Property

LawsRCW 26.16 (Rights and Liabilities – Community Property), specifically RCW 26.16.030.

As one of the few remaining states that recognize community property law instead of equitable distribution, Washington considers almost all property acquired during a marriage to be jointly owned and therefore subject to equal division upon divorce.