The list of things the COVID-19 pandemic has changed in 2020 is long. From social distancing guidelines to travel advisories, the coronavirus has altered many aspects of life. For hundreds of couples, COVID-19 has meant having to postpone a wedding. If you and your spouse created a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets, but then had to postpone your wedding due to COVID-19, consider a few factors that may be relevant to your current situation. You may need to work with a prenuptial agreement lawyer for assistance.
When Does a Prenuptial Agreement Take Effect?
No rule exists for how far in advance a couple must sign a prenuptial agreement. Any time before the wedding, from months in advance to a day before, can be appropriate. However, most couples sign their prenups well in advance of the wedding date to give each party enough time to think about the agreement. Prenuptial agreements are unique in that they do not take effect when signed, but when the couple marries. If you and your spouse already signed and notarized a prenuptial agreement, it does not mean it is currently in effect. The document will not become legally binding until after you and your spouse marry.
Postponing your wedding will not, therefore, affect your prenuptial agreement directly. Your agreement will still be valid and enforceable by a court after you marry, as long as you both signed while not under duress. You can still proceed with your wedding with the prenuptial agreement you and your spouse have already signed if its terms remain accurate. The document will only become effective when you and your spouse eventually get married.
Modifying a Prenup After COVID-19
Many couples experienced a significant change in income, assets and debts due to the coronavirus and related financial hardships. You or your spouse might have lost a job, for example, or racked up significant debt. This can create issues in terms of a prenuptial agreement you and your spouse drafted prior to COVID-19. Your old prenup, for instance, might have listed an amount of income you no longer make. It could also have outdated information on the amount of debt you and/or your spouse will be bringing into the marriage.
It is important to update your prenuptial agreement if something has changed from when you altered it last. If COVID-19 has significantly changed your income or assets, go to a lawyer to modify the prenup and re-sign a new agreement closer to your postponed wedding date. You and your spouse can work together on new terms that better accommodate the way your life looks now due to COVID-19. Wait until closer to your new wedding date to minimize the number of changes you will need to make to a prenup. At the very least, you can sign and attach a financial disclosure that relates to COVID-19 as an amendment to your existing prenup.
How to Legalize Your Prenuptial Agreement After a COVID-19 Wedding Postponement
Whether you already have a prenuptial agreement, need to change an existing document due to COVID-19 or are still in the early stages of considering one, work with a family law attorney for assistance. A lawyer can ensure the validity of your prenuptial agreement. The prenup must be in writing, for example, and contain terms and provisions that are reasonable and lawful. If you and your spouse wish to modify your prenup, a lawyer can make sure your changes are legal. A lawyer can also make the process more efficient to help you finish your prenup before your new wedding date.
It is never too early to start negotiating a prenuptial agreement. Negotiating a prenup can take weeks or months depending on the complexity of its terms. Even if you do not know when your wedding will occur in these uncertain times, you and your spouse can negotiate a prenup with a lawyer today. The agreement will not become effective until the date you and your spouse marry, and will be available to modify until then. If you and your spouse wish to discuss your prenuptial agreement in terms of COVID-19, contact the Schoenberg Family Law Group for advice.