Does a Marriage Engagement Affect Your Legal Rights?
Simply becoming engaged to be married does not by itself affect your legal rights. Getting engaged, legally, is almost like signing a Partnership Agreement with your fiance. As you plan your wedding, you may be required to sign contracts and may be held responsible for agreements title loans in West Virginia you both sign.
Additionally, being engaged does not afford you the same rights that actually being married would offer, and does not usually affect your legal status. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, each having to do with a specific aspect of some engagements.
- The engagement ring: Many couples wonder what would happen to the engagement ring if one person called off the engagement. The answer varies by state, so if you plan to give a family heirloom as an engagement ring, you may wish to discuss your expectations first. In some states, an engagement ring meets all the qualifications of a gift, and the recipient is entitled to keep it whether the marriage takes place or not. In other states, an engagement ring is considered a gift that is conditional upon marriage, so if the couple breaks up before marriage, the ring should be given back.
- One person is not a U.S. citizen: If one member of the couple is not a U.S. citizen, becoming engaged may make it possible to get a fiance visa to live in the United States. This is discussed in more detail in the section on legal status below.
- Prenuptial Agreements: If you decide that you would like to enter into a Prenuptial Agreement, this legal contract needs to be completed before you get married.
Does it matter if a Prenuptial Agreement is signed before or after an engagement?
Most couples who decide to enter into a Prenuptial Agreement do so while they are engaged to be married. In some circumstances, they may decide to discuss some points that would be part of a Prenuptial Agreement before they get engaged. Ultimately, it does not matter much whether a prenup is made before or after a formal engagement, since the terms of the contract will go into effect once a couple is married. What does matter is whether you have adequate time before getting married to negotiate and sign a prenup. If you try to do this too close to your wedding date, and one person does not have enough time to get legal advice or feels coerced, the agreement might not be considered valid.
Make sure you have checked off each box on your legal to-do list for engaged couples and know how much time to allow for each item before the big day. If it turns out that there is not enough time to enter into a Prenuptial Agreement, you may consider a Postnuptial Agreement instead, which you would sign after the marriage has begun. In this situation, you may want to consult with a lawyer to make sure you will not be giving up any valuable legal rights.
What should I include in a Prenuptial Agreement?
When you get married, your legal rights will change significantly. You and your future spouse may want to address a number of topics concerning your finances and property when drafting a Prenuptial Agreement. Before making a final decision, you might consider the pros and cons of signing a prenup, and understand what is likely to happen if you do not have one. Here are some common considerations before making a Prenuptial Agreement:
- Circumstances going into marriage: If you or your partner has significantly more savings or other assets, will property stay separate in the event of a separation down the road? Likewise, if one of you has student loan debt, should that person remain solely responsible for that debt? During divorce, assets and debts are divided. A prenup can add some clarity on how to divide assets and debts.