Washington Prenuptial Agreements

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Engaged couples have the option of creating a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial or premarital agreement is a contract between two parties formed prior to marriage, which becomes enforceable upon the marriage. These contracts generally address matters of property in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse.

As with any decision that an engaged couple contemplates, there are many things to think about when considering a premarital agreement. Some people view these types of agreements as an unromantic set-up for divorce; others view them as a proactive way to make decisions (including protecting property) in the event of a divorce. Every couple should determine for themselves whether a prenuptial agreement is the right decision to make, given their unique situation.

Synopsis of Washington Prenuptial Agreements

When conducting legal research, a reliable source of statutory interpretation is a consultation with an attorney. However, you can still get a handle on the law by reading a version of the content written in more readable terms. The chart below provides a synopsis of the law that details Washington's rules and procedures for prenuptial agreements.

Statute

Washington Revised Code, Section 26.16.120

 

Valid Agreements

 

For a valid prenup, the agreement must:

  • Be in writing;
  • Be signed by both parties and notarized;
  • Include a complete list of parties' assets, liabilities, and income; and
  • Include attorney signatures and a certificate that acknowledges that the attorney explained the agreement to the party and that the party signed voluntarily.

Content

Prenuptial agreements can cover a lot of various subject matters, including property division and spousal support. What can and can't be included in the agreement depends on state law.

However, certain terms for prenuptial agreements are considered unenforceable in Washington. For example, the agreement can't detract from creditors' rights and can't be written in a way that interferes with the power of the superior court to cancel or set aside the agreement for fraud or prevent the application of the laws governing community property and the inheritance rights of slayers or abusers.

Determinations about spousal support are allowed, but child custody and child support can't be determined in a prenuptial agreement. The court determines custody based on the child's best interests and support is calculated according to state support guidelines.

Invalid Agreements

Reasons for invalid prenuptial agreements:

  • There wasn't full disclosure of the amount, character, and value of property involved (the spouse didn't include all assets);
  • Technical errors: The agreement doesn't meet Washington's legal standards for a binding agreement;
  • The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed; or
  • The agreement was signed without the opportunity for advice of independent counsel.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources for Washington Prenuptial Agreements

Need Help with a Prenuptial Agreement? Speak with an Attorney

If you're experiencing issues involving a prenuptial agreement, you should speak with an experienced lawyer. A Washington family law attorney can help you with writing the agreement, negotiating terms, or challenging an invalid or unfair agreement.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.