Couples can use prenuptial agreements, or prenups, to address potential divorce issues prior to getting married. These agreements must be made in accordance with the laws of the state where you live or get married. Though no state requires that they be signed by a lawyer, some do require notarization. Talk to a divorce attorney in your area if you need legal advice about prenups.
How a prenuptial agreement must be formed depends on state law. Many states have adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement act, a set of laws that establishes that all premarital agreements must be made in writing and signed by both spouses before the couple gets married. There is no requirements in these states that a prenuptial agreement is signed by a notary or by witnesses.
Some states require that all prenups be notarized to be valid. MedLaw Plus reports that Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri all require that the couple must have their prenuptial agreements notarized, while Missouri and Minnesota require that the document must also be witnessed. Because couples are not required to hire an attorney, no state requires that an attorney sign a prenuptial agreement. Even if the parties have an attorney, the attorney does not typically sign the document.
There are also other states that make different provisions. Ohio, for example, simply requires that parties make any premarital agreement in writing. There is no requirement that the couple even sign the document. Maryland, on the other hand, requires that the agreement be in writing and signed but makes no other provisions. Oklahoma law allows for prenuptial agreements but makes no specific provisions for how they must be created, and does not even require them to be in writing.
Even in states where there is no requirement that a prenup be notarized, couples always have the option of signing their premarital agreements before a notary. A notary's primary purpose is to officially recognize a document and ensure that the purported signatures are signed by the appropriate people. However, a notary is not there to judge whether the agreement is valid, and a notarized prenup that does not meet state requirements is still invalid.
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