Understanding Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Marriage is a celebration of love and commitment between two partners hoping to spend their lives together. While most couples enter marriage with the best of intentions,  divorce statistics in the United States show that many couples do not have a happily ever after. For this reason, many divorce attorneys and other specialists encourage couples to consider prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. While discussing the dissolution of your marriage before it has begun can seem unpleasant, when properly drafted and implemented, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can truly benefit both spouses. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are no longer only utilized by America’s wealthiest couples. Here is what you need to know.

What Is a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?

Marriage is a partnership, both emotional and financial. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements aim to protect the finances of both spouses in the unfortunate event of a divorce or another unexpected event such as death. A prenuptial agreement is a contract concerning financial issues that a couple signs before marriage. A postnuptial agreement serves the same purpose, but is agreed upon by both spouses after the marriage has begun. Agreements vary depending on the goals of both parties, but can detail each party’s rights to property, income, and responsibility over debt. Additionally, these agreements can cover any potential future divorce details, like spousal support and legal fees. Many couples agree to prenups to protect assets acquired prior to marriage. As trends show, many Americans are marrying later in life, or choosing to cohabitate for years before marriage, meaning that when they do marry, they bring with them individually earned assets. These agreements can also protect other important items like family businesses and inheritances.

As these agreements are delicate, divorce attorneys recommend initiating the process months prior to a couple’s wedding day. This ensures that the agreement is completed in a sensitive, professional manner that is beneficial for both partners. To create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, a couple must first discuss the terms they would like covered in the agreement. Both spouses must be willing to disclose their personal financial information. Then, a draft of the agreement is prepared. Both future spouses will review the draft, negotiate further, and finalize the agreement once both are satisfied.

If properly drafted and negotiated, most prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are upheld by the court. It is important, however, that both parties are clear on the terms of the agreement and that the contract is created in a professional manner. If an agreement is poorly drafted, it can cause multiple legal issues. For this reason, it is especially important that these sensitive documents are created with help, preferably from an experienced attorney. An attorney can help ensure the document is clearly understood by both parties, mean it will be much more likely to hold up in court.

What Are the Benefits of These Agreements?

There are many benefits to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Divorce attorneys point out that as money is one of the biggest factors that drives couples to divorce, discussing finances before marriage is beneficial and could strengthen marriages. These discussions many also help identify differences in views and expectations a coupe may have regarding financial issues, such as saving and spending. This may actually strengthen a marriage in the long run.

Considering a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?

The stigma surrounding these agreements is slowly disappearing in America, especially as more couples become aware of the country’s high divorce rate. If you and your partner are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the experienced Wheaton area family law attorneys at Abear Family Law Offices are here to help. We understand the complex issues involved with these types of agreements, and can help couples ensure they draft the best agreement possible. While most people do not enter marriage expecting it to end, preparing for the future can save you major time, money, and stress. Call 630-904-3033 today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.