Prenuptial Agreements are contracts in which parties contemplating marriage enter into an agreement that will protect his or her assets or property in the event the parties later divorce.
Tennessee law provides for prenuptial agreements (“antenuptial” or “prenup” as commonly called) by stating that parties may enter into an agreement “concerning property owned by either spouse before the marriage.” Tenn Code Ann. Sec. 36-3-501. Prenuptial agreements make sense when both parties have significant income or property, or are may acquire same after marriage. A classic example of a party’s likelihood to acquire significant property or income is when one party is pursuing a professional degree or license during the marriage (i.e. medical school). Prenuptial agreements may also be used when the parties each have children from prior marriages, and wish to protect the inheritance rights of their children. A common uses of a prenuptial agreement is when one of the parties has significant property and/or income and the other party does not. Prenuptial agreements in these cases generally provide for a reasonable settlement amount for the disadvantaged spouse. All prenuptial agreements will determine what property is “marital” or “separate” property in the event of a divorce.
Tennessee courts will enforce prenuptial agreements if the following requirements are met: The agreement must have been “entered into by such spouses freely, knowledgeably and in good faith and without exertion of duress or undue influence upon either spouse.” Tenn Code Ann. Sec. 36-3-501. The best way to ensure that the prenuptial agreement meets these requirements is to have it prepared by an experienced Tennessee domestic relations attorney.