Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Did you know that prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can improve marriages? The process of creating a thoughtful agreement encourages couples to hold conversations about important financial issues so they build a solid foundation for their marriage. When a couple has experienced discord or a breach of trust, a postnuptial agreement can protect their rights, so they feel confident as they rebuild the relationship.
Of course, these agreements also protect your rights when the marriage ends, either through death or divorce. The dedicated attorneys at West Family Law Group help people in all situations with custom tailored prenuptial agreements designed to protect your interests.
Understanding Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people intending to marry each other. If you create and sign an agreement before you get married, it is called to as a prenuptial or premarital agreement, and it does not take effect until you get married. If you want an agreement on the same subjects as in a prenuptial agreement, but you are already married, it is called a postnuptial agreement. Both types of agreements should be created with the expectation that a marriage will continue.
Marital agreements provide advantages for all couples, but they are particularly recommended for couples with children from a prior relationship, partners who own interests in a closely held business, or individuals with significant assets.
What’s Included in a Marital Agreement
A prenuptial agreement can include—or leave out—almost anything, so long as the terms do not violate public policy. Couples often choose to use a marital agreement to specify:
- What will happen with debts incurred by a partner before the marriage
- Whether a business owned by one partner will be joint or separate property during the marriage
- How personal property such as cars and jewelry will be handled when the marriage ends through death or divorce
- The inheritance rights of children from an earlier marriage
- What happens to the family home if the marriage ends
- Whether one spouse will pay alimony if the couple separates or divorces
- What happens with each partner’s retirement plans
While you can establish expectations involving custody and support of your children with a prenuptial agreement, these expectations are not ironclad. Decisions about custody and child support are always based on the child’s best interests, and those cannot be determined contractually in advance. A couple may propose their own agreement for these issues, but a court would need to approve them at the time of divorce or separation.
The Process of Creating a Marital Agreement is Critical
A prenuptial agreement is not something you should suddenly present to your partner with demanding a signature. A prenuptial agreement should be negotiated carefully with input from both partners.
Both of you need to review and understand your financial situations, including income, assets, and debts. You should discuss your financial plans, goals, and priorities. This can involve challenging conversations, which we can help you with. When you understand the realities and expectations of your partner, your marriage will start on a much stronger foundation.
It takes time to gather information, consider all the issues that could arise in the future, and develop an agreement that provides protection for you. A skilled family law attorney can guide you through the process and coordinate with financial advisors and other professionals to create an agreement tailored to your specific needs.
Find Out How a Marital Agreement Can Strengthen Your Relationship and Protect Your Future
While prenuptial agreements have a bad reputation as a tool used to hoard wealth in a doomed marriage, they can strengthen relationships and allow couples to move forward with confidence.
At West Family Law Group, we ensure that you have the knowledge you need to make informed choices and we document the process to ensure that all requirements are fulfilled comprehensively and in a legally enforceable manner. To find out more about the benefits a pre or postnuptial agreement can provide, we invite you to contact us for a confidential consultation.