By Chris Kramer
Marriage is a legally binding contract and if you choose to enter into it without a prenuptial agreement, you will become subject to divorce laws in your state if you and your spouse choose to divorce. To avoid a situation where possibly vague divorce laws dictate how to divide the marital assets, the new trend is for couples to voluntarily enter into a postnuptial agreement to outline wishes in the event of death or divorce.
A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it's signed by the parties after marriage. These agreements can sometimes be used to work out issues that may be causing problems in a marriage and help the couple avoid divorce.
Divorce lawyers often recommend postnuptial agreements when the financial status of a couple has changed. Both parties generally must have a lawyer help in the creation and review of a valid postnuptial agreement before it's signed. Everything should be disclosed during postnuptial agreement negotiations. If there's not full and fair disclosure about debts and assets while negotiating the postnuptial agreement, it may be considered invalid later during a divorce.
Postnuptial agreements are now valid in most states; however, there are generally no specific laws governing these agreements as there are with prenuptial agreements. The agreements may be challenged or scrutinized more thoroughly than prenuptial agreements in divorce court. The court may decide to disregard a postnuptial agreement if it was entered into under duress, if all assets were not disclosed in the agreement or if the agreement is not considered fair to both parties.
A postnuptial agreement should define all of the marital assets and debts, income of both parties and future gifts and inheritances expected. A plan of how all debts will be paid should be outlined in the event of a divorce. Alimony should be defined in the postnuptial agreement. In some cases, these payments may be waived in favor of a property settlement and a divorce lawyer can provide advice regarding the legality of such waivers.
The postnuptial agreement should also address property distribution in the event of death or divorce. This should include an agreement about who retains the marital home and any other real estate owned by the couple, along with any artwork, jewelry or other valuables. Any future inheritances or gifts that are expected should also be addressed. The status of any trusts or benefits that either spouse may be entitled to receive in the future should be included in the agreement.
Finally, the postnuptial agreement should provide a financial plan, defining what will be provided in the will of each party. The postnuptial agreement should also outline medical, disability, life or long-term-care insurance coverage for the parties.
If you are thinking about getting a divorce or already have decided to get a divorce, you should consider your options to protect yourself and your property. A local divorce lawyer can offer advice on how negotiate a postnuptial agreement with your spouse that protects your best interests. Connect today by filling out a divorce case review form or calling 877-349-1310 to set up a preliminary consultation.
The above synopsis of postnuptial agreements is by no means all-inclusive is not intended to serve as legal advice. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these laws, please contact a local divorce lawyer in your area.