Gabrielle Union makes no bones about that the fact that although she is looking forward to her impending nuptials to NBA star Dwyane Wade, she and Wade will have an iron clad pre-nuptial agreement before she walks down the aisle. “The biggest difference between this and the last marriage [to NFL star Chris Howard] will be a prenup – at my insistence,” she candidly told Arsenio Hall during a recent interview, explaining that “I’ve got to protect my stuff.”
Pre-nuptial agreements can be a very sticky subject for couples planning to tie the knot; and for some folks, it’s a downright deal breaker. Let’s face it, planning a wedding is supposed to be blissful and romantic, and nothing kills the mood more than a contract that contemplates divorce. Regardless, pre-nuptial agreements can serve a very important function. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, they streamline the issues and can save both parties a lot of time, stress, and money.
In Georgia, pre-nuptial agreements generally protect the individual assets that each party owns at the time of the marriage, establish the parties’ respective rights to future assets that are accumulated during the marriage, and in some instances, establish or prohibit alimony rights. Pre-nuptial agreements cannot, however, address the issues of custody, visitation, and child support. Child support deals with the rights of the child and therefore, parents cannot predetermine the rights of another person. Additionally, custody and visitation issues are based on the best interest of the child involved and therefore, those arrangements must be determined at the time of the dispute since neither parent can predict what the circumstances will be at the time of a divorce.
Enforceability of pre-nuptial agreements in Georgia is an entirely different matter. Many people are willing to sign a pre-nup prior to the wedding, thinking that it will never actually see the light of day, and then seek to set it aside when a divorce is filed. In order to enforce the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement, Courts in Georgia will consider three things. First, the court will determine whether the agreement was obtained through fraud, duress or mistake, or through misrepresentation or nondisclosure of material facts (such as one party’s assets or income at the time of the marriage). Second, the Court will look to whether the agreement is unconscionable. Finally, the Court will determine whether the facts and circumstances have changed so much since the agreement was executed so as to make its enforcement unfair and unreasonable. Although these elements may seem daunting, Georgia has seen a significant movement towards Courts favoring the enforcement of pre-nuptial agreements over the past decade.
For some people, it’s not necessarily the protection of assets that’s the main goal, but simply the peace of mind that a pre-nuptial agreement brings when you’re marrying someone who may not be as financially savvy as you are. In Union’s case, her fiancé likely has plenty of his own assets after 10 seasons as an NBA guard. But as Union put it, “the reality is, I’ve never seen Dwyane balance a checkbook.” Not having to stress if her husband invests poorly or spends recklessly might just be the solution to making their marriage work!