Pre- & Postnuptial Agreements: What You Need to Know

As you plan for your new life as a married couple, the last thing you probably want to think about is what will happen if your marriage ends in divorce. The thought of this makes many couples shy away from the idea of a prenuptial agreement, even when this document could make things easier in several ways. Many people aren’t have not heard of the term, let alone be aware of the benefits of a postnuptial agreement.

To help you ensure a smoother relationship throughout your marriage, and even more so in the event that your marriage ends, here are a few important things to know about pre- and post-nuptial agreements.

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a voluntary contract entered into before two people get married. Future spouses decide what goes into the contract/agreement without the use of the courts. The agreement stipulates what will happen to certain assets and obligations in the event of a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements address many of the same issues as divorce or separation agreements, including which debts and which assets (such as bank accounts, property, collectibles or art, and vehicles) go to which parties. Prenups often stipulate which assets were brought into the marriage by which parties, officially separating these from marital assets.

The specifics of your prenuptial agreement are customized to your situation. The agreement could discuss anything from who gets the family home to how to share custody of the family dog.

What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenuptial agreement, but the couple enters into it after the wedding day. Postnups are less common and may require more attention to the details as more assets can be involved and complicate matters.

State law governs the division of marital assets, your agreement must take family law into consideration. This agreement may be less about who brought which assets into the marriage and more about how shared assets will be divided.

Why Should You Sign a Prenuptial Agreement?

There is a false assumption that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy people. While this misconception is common, a prenup can protect the finances and relationship of many couples. A prenup resolves the potentially emotional and difficult negotiations of a divorce before they even get started and helps prevent problems between you and your ex-spouse if anything happens to the marriage.

A prenup is also a great way to get all your cards on the table and promote honesty about financials from the beginning of your marriage. Specific information about each party’s assets and debts, put into writing for both to understand and may help to facilitate healthy discussions about the future. Both sides in the agreement must thorough and forthcoming in order for a prenup to achieve its purpose.

Why Should You Sign a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement is a good way to protect your finances if you disagree with the way that your state divides up marital assets. If you live in a community property state such as Arizona, for instance, the court would likely divide assets 50/50. If you and your partner prefer a different arrangement, a postnuptial agreement helps make that happen.

Postnups are also a good idea if you signed a prenuptial agreement many years ago, or if circumstances have changed. If one person has received an inheritance or a gift that may get co-mingled with marital property, a postnup could help prevent it from being lumped in with other marital assets.

Where Should You Start?

If you think that a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement could be a helpful tool for your relationship, call on DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC to learn more about these important documents. With more than 30 years of combined experience, we will aid you in crafting the right agreements to strengthen your marriage and prevent future problems. Call today to make an appointment.

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