You and your spouse may live a long, happy life together, but divorce frequently happens. The simplest way to protect your income and assets is by a written contract created and signed either before or after your wedding. Although it doesn’t seem “romantic” to discuss a potential breakup or your own death, creating a marital contract can provide important legal protections for both spouses.
A pre-marital or prenuptial agreement is entered into before you are wed, while a post-marital or a postnuptial agreement is entered into during the marriage. While the language may differ slightly, both documents are legally binding contracts.
This contract governs a variety of subjects, but most frequently is used to determine the division and ownership of your assets if you divorce. Typical assets include inheritance, retirement funds, stocks, lottery winnings, jointly owned real estate, or vehicles. The contract typically addresses:
However, you cannot determine custody or child support, which must both be determined in accordance with the then-applicable state law.
Contrary to popular belief, some couples enter agreements for the sake of marital harmony, as a pre-marital or post-marital agreement can create a stronger and more transparent relationship. You and your spouse will be forced to discuss money, which likely reveals how each of you thinks about and handles money, including your spending and savings habits, what debts you may be bringing into the marriage (like student loans), etc. – which may eliminate tension or surprise as your marriage progresses. Because the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement requires you and your spouse to make important decisions up front, any divorce is usually less costly from both a financial and emotional perspective.
In every pre- and post-nuptial agreement, each party must have the proper time to read, sign, and notarize the document. Neither person should be pressured or under duress to sign. If these provisions are not followed, the agreement could be rendered invalid.
Need to draft a pre- or post-marital agreement? Contact our office at (850) 694-1411 to schedule your initial consultation.
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