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Prenuptial agreements may help same-sex couples in Washington

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Washington, it was rather simple for a same-sex couple to end their relationship. They would break-up and one partner would move out. However, if a couple is married, as same-sex couples are now able to do nationwide, to end their marriage requires a divorce, and all the legalities that go along with it.

In addition to issues such as spousal support, child custody and child support, one divorce legal issue that will come up in a same-sex divorce (and a divorce between opposite sex partners as well) is that of property division. Individuals in Washington may have very specific ideas about how they want their property handled should they divorce. However, the matter will be left up to a judge's discresion, unless the divorcing couple can reach an out-of-court settlement, something which may be hard to do if it is a heated divorce. Of course, the issue of property division in a same-sex divorce may be resolved in a swifter and smoother manner if the couple had entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.

A prenuptial agreement can lay out who will receive what property should the marriage not last. For example, the property each party owned prior to the marriage will be theirs to take should they later divorce. However, prenuptial agreements can divide up marital property as well in a way that is agreeable to both parties. In addition, if spousal support is to be paid, a prenuptial agreement can define how much support will be owed, if any at all. Moreover, a prenuptial agreement can even address the issue of who receives what assets should one of the parties pass away.

As this shows, preparing a prenuptial agreement can be a sensible thing to do. While many same-sex couples will not divorce, nothing is set in stone and unexpected events can take place that lead a couple to decide that ending their marriage is in their best interests. Having a prenuptial agreement in place makes settling a divorce easier, so each party can move forward as a newly single individual.

Source: Washington Blade, "Why pre-nups are not only for the rich and famous," Lawrence S. Jacobs, Sept. 17, 2016

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