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What are Virginia’s marital agreement laws?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | Family Law

Marriage is a long-term commitment that two people in a marriage make to each other. However, sometimes those people have to break that commitment owing to differences between them that cannot be resolved.

In situations such as this, pre- and post-marital agreements often serve an important purpose by ensuring that the separation is peaceful as far as far as division of property, estate planning, spousal support, and certain other aspects marriage and divorce are concerned.

Virginia’s marital agreement laws

Marital agreement laws, titled as the Premarital Agreement Act in the Codes of Virginia, can be found in Title 20 Chapter 8 sections 147–155. This set of laws applies to all marital agreements that have been executed since July 1, 1986.

  • Sections 147–148 outline the application of the Act and the definitions of the terms “premarital agreement” and “property.”
  • Section 149 outlines the formalities of a marital agreement, that is, the agreement is to be in writing, enforceable without consideration, and effective upon marriage.
  • Section 150 outlines the rights and obligations that the parties may include in the agreement with respect to various property- and finance-related aspects of marriage and the parties’ right to choose the law that will govern the agreement.
  • Section 151 outlines when a marital agreement is unenforceable. An agreement would be unenforceable if the person against whom enforcement is sought can prove that it was not executed voluntarily or it was executed unconscionably.
  • Sections 152–154 outline the laws related to the limitations of actions, the amendment or revocation of an agreement, and the important aspect of prior agreements, respectively.
  • Section 155 is about post-marital agreements. Sections 147–154 apply in this case too, except that post-marital agreements are effective from the date they are executed. Also, a post-marital agreement does not have to be in writing if it is part of a court order endorsed by both parties or if it is recorded by a court reporter and affirmed by the parties. Finally, a separation or property settlement agreement nullifies a post-marital agreement unless expressly mentioned to the contrary in that agreement.

Virginia is an equitable distribution state

In an equitable distribution state, property division can often be a major contention point for separating spouses. Therefore, in order to protect one’s interests, it may be a wise decision on the part of prospective and existing spouses to execute a marital agreement and keep the acrimony at bay.