Can My Prenuptial Agreement Expire?

Prenuptial agreements are legally binding contracts drafted and signed by a couple prior to getting married. Prenuptial agreements, also called prenups, outline how finances and property brought into the marriage will be handled in the case of divorce. A prenup can also provide provisions for spousal support and other assets from the union. Though prenups don't have expiration dates, they can be written to include clauses and limitations as needed. No matter how long a couple has been married, their prenuptial agreement will remain binding and in force unless otherwise noted in the document. To ensure that both parties are fully protected in the case of divorce, couples should have their prenup reviewed by a reliable family law attorney before signing. Additionally, if you experience any major life or financial changes, you should seek legal counsel to ensure your interests are protected.

How to Make a Prenuptial Agreement More Flexible?

By design, prenups are written to be inflexible or by legal standards – ironclad. So, adding flexibility or loose language to your contract will be the opposite of what you’d want – a binding and enforceable legal document. In lieu of an expiration date or flexible language, your prenuptial agreement can include language that befits your situation and goals, be changed, or even written with future milestones in mind.

Speak to your attorney about your options, like:

  • Modified Language: A prenuptial agreement should be drafted carefully to consider the nuances of each party's financial situation. It is essential for both parties to examine their needs and priorities, ensuring that the agreement includes adequate protection. If flexibility is the goal, it is beneficial to speak to your attorney about ways in which certain terms can be modified to meet your specific needs. Leaving too much open for interpretation can leave your prenuptial agreement ineffective. If the language of an agreement is too broad, it can become weak and provide no protection whatsoever - potentially making divorce more difficult.
  • Sunset Clauses: A sunset clause, also known as a sunset provision, is an expiration date for a prenuptial agreement. It offers protection and optimism to couples, allowing them to agree on a period after which their prenup will no longer be valid. For example, couples can have a clause included in their prenup that sets the expiration date ten years into the marriage. This can be helpful when one individual stands to lose financially if marital wealth is split equally in the case of divorce. A sunset clause allows couples to enjoy the best of both worlds: they are protected while married and will not have to worry about assets being shared if the union ends prematurely.
  • Amendments to a Prenup: Amending a prenuptial agreement can be a valuable way to update and adapt one's financial agreement in the event of a major life change. This could include changes to income, property ownership, family size, or other factors that impact finances. It is important to note that for any amendments to be legally binding, they must be properly documented and signed by both parties. Additionally, one should also ensure that their amended prenup is updated with their state laws as they constantly evolve over time.

Depending on the events of your marriage, if you are worried about your prenup, you should consult with an attorney. Your situation may necessitate having a postnuptial agreement drafted. Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnup outlines how resources will be allocated in the event of a divorce. Couples can sign this agreement after their wedding, or even years later, to protect an inheritance, provide for a stay-at-home spouse, assign ownership of a business, or repay a parental gift. Although postnuptial agreements cannot address issues around child custody or child support due to state laws, they do provide an effective framework for ensuring that both parties receive a fair settlement if divorce occurs.

Contact the Law Offices of Alexandra White

Prenups provide important legal protection for couples who wish to start their marriage with clarity and security. A prenuptial agreement is like an insurance policy for your marriage, providing you with an expiration-free legal document that clearly outlines each party's financial rights and responsibilities. Even if doubts about the long-term prospects of the marriage do arise, couples can still ensure their interests are protected while also respecting the feelings of their partner. If you have questions about your financial security as you prepare to get married, contact the Law Offices of Alexandra White at (303) 647-4245 to schedule a consultation.