Pre- and Post-Nuptial Agreements
Brewe Layman regularly prepares and reviews both Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements. A Prenuptial Agreement is entered into prior to marriage; a Postnuptial Agreement is entered into after a marriage has occurred.
The purpose of such an agreement is to clarify and agree on issues pertaining to property the parties are bringing into a marriage and to establish a contract about the division of assets in the event of a future divorce, separation or death.
To be enforceable, a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement must be carefully prepared or reviewed. Additionally, there are some issues that aren’t generally binding in a court, even if they are addressed in a Prenuptial agreement, such as child custody. Generally, to be enforceable, it is critical:
- That the agreement be in writing.
- That both parties have independent legal counsel.
- That there be full and complete disclosure of each parties’ assets/debts and the values thereof as a portion of the document.
- That the document be executed well prior to the marriage date if it is a Prenuptial Agreement. We generally advocate that the document be executed sixty (60) days prior to the marriage.
- That the document be freely and voluntarily executed.
Domestic Partnerships/Committed Intimate Relationships (CIRs)
While Washington does not recognize common law marriages, our courts have judicially recognized certain living-together relationships, which are commonly referred to as committed intimate relationships (CIRs). Courts have defined these kinds of relationships as “a stable, marital-like relationship where both parties cohabit with knowledge that a lawful marriage between them does not exist.”
The dissolution of a CIR can be just as thorny and complicated as a marital divorce, with issues surrounding division of assets, parenting plans and child support.
Washington’s Supreme Court has identified five factors to analyze whether a CIR exists, which include:
- Continuous cohabitation;
- Duration of the relationship;
- Purpose of the relationship;
- Intent of the parties; and
- Pooling of resources and services for joint projects.
Each factor is considered on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a CIR exists.
Once the court determines that the relationship should be characterized as a CIR, it must then: (1) evaluate the interest each party has in the property acquired during the relationship, and (2) perform a just and equitable disposition of all property of the parties, pursuant to RCW §26.09.080.
Evaluating whether a CIR exists requires a detailed analysis of both the facts of the relationship and the relevant case law.