Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Home Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are intended to guard the individual rights of both husband and wife. Hartung Schroeder attorneys work with clients considering marriage and those who are already married, tailoring custom nuptial agreements for their uniquely personal needs.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are becoming more popular and more accepted in society. In the past, the very act of being asked to sign a prenup may have been seen as insulting and a signal that the marriage is starting on rocky ground. Now, more individuals consider a prenup as an essential planning document that simply makes good sense although a recent Harvard Law School study showed that less than five (5%) of the population has a prenuptial agreement. It creates an opportunity to have an open dialogue between the couple regarding what’s most important to them in marriage, such as finances—one of the biggest reasons marriages end in divorce. While discussing the contents of the prenup, many couples resolve difficult financial questions at a time when they are most in love.

A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement) is a written contract signed by two people before they get married. The document often includes an inventory of what each person owns and what each party owes (often using a Schedule of Assets and property listing similar to an Equitable Distribution Initial Listing) before they get married.

A prenuptial agreement specifies how property will be shared during the marriage, how it will be divided upon divorce and whether either party will pay alimony to the other. Business partners now often insist on having a prenuptial agreement to protect themselves and the business if and when their partner’s husband or wife files for divorce.

Legal prenuptial agreements are written, signed by both parties, and notarized prior to marriage. If no prenup is established and the marriage ends in divorce, marital property can be distributed equitably, which may result in significant loss to a spouse.

Common reasons for entering into a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Protect and pass separate property to children of a prior marriage
  • Protect the spouse who sacrifices their career and/or assets for the marriage
  • Protect spouse from debts accumulated by other spouse before the marriage
  • Protect premarital assets
  • Provide for elderly parents
  • Avoid lengthy litigation in the event of divorce
  • Shield children from litigation
  • Shield a family business from insolvency

Postnuptial Agreements

Postnuptial agreements (also known as postnups) are similar to prenuptial agreements, except that a postnup is signed after the parties marry. Most commonly created for estate planning purposes, postnuptial agreements can provide a communication tool for spouses who are already married, clarifying relationship responsibilities and providing for each spouse should their relationship end due to divorce. Postnuptial agreements are also often signed as part of a reconciliation following a family law dispute. If your spouse has requested that you sign a postnuptial agreement, it is in your best interests to consult an attorney—before signing the agreement—to ensure your rights are protected.

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