What makes an Arkansas prenuptial agreement valid?

For a number of years, courts looked down on prenuptial agreements, under the idea that people should not make contracts about something so intimate as marriage. However, in the 1960s and 1970s, courts began to enforce such agreements more frequently, recognizing that there is a serious financial aspect to marriage. Courts now routinely enforce such agreements today in 2013. Arkansas has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act to govern drafting and enforcement of prenuptial agreements. Arkansas residents should be aware of what is included in premarital agreements, as well as how to make a premarital agreement valid.

Topics included in prenuptial agreements

Arkansas prenuptial agreements can cover a wide range of topics. Traditionally, such agreements discuss the rights to own, use or dispose of property that each spouse has in the event that the couple divorces, as well as responsibility for debt that each party has in the event of divorce. Many prenuptial agreements also spell out whether either spouse has a right to alimony if the couple divorces, as well as the amount of alimony.

What some may not realize is that premarital agreements can also spell out distribution of property that will occur at the time a spouse dies as a means of ensuring that a person's property goes to intended recipients. A prenuptial agreement may also include how to disperse the funds of a life insurance policy. Similarly, a prenuptial agreement may obligate the spouses to draft estate plans that reflect the property arrangements specified in the agreement.

Prenuptial agreements can include a variety of other topics, if spouses so choose. The law states that a prenuptial agreement may cover any other matter, such as personal obligations or rights, that does not violate public policy or statute. Spouses may also choose the law that controls how the court will interpret the construction of the agreement.

What spouses may not include in a prenuptial agreement, however, is a limitation on child support.

Valid prenuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement becomes binding once a couple weds, as long as it was validly executed. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid in Arkansas, the spouses must:

  • Both voluntarily execute the agreement.
  • Provide full disclosure about financial obligations and property.
  • Consult with legal counsel and expressly waive further financial disclosures other than those provided.
  • Awareness of the finances of the other spouse.

The court will not enforce agreements that are unconscionable on their face or agreements that limit alimony payments so that one spouse would require public assistance to meet basic needs.

Talk to a lawyer

Those considering a prenuptial agreement should seek the assistance of a skilled attorney to review them to make sure that they are fair to both parties and that they are drafted in such a manner that the courts will enforce them. If you have questions about prenuptial agreements, speak with a seasoned Arkansas family law attorney who can advise you about your specific circumstances.