Most people associate marital agreements with divorce, but they can be used to help with several different marital situations, not just a separation. They may not be very romantic, but prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be extremely beneficial and may provide you and your spouse with a sense of reassurance and financial confidence. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements create a clear, legally-binding agreement between two spouses, or soon-to-be spouses, which can make the marital expectations much easier to understand. Whether you wish to establish these goals prior to the marriage, (a prenuptial agreement), or during the marriage, (a postnuptial agreement), an experienced family lawyer can help you create the document you need.
If you are married or are about to become married, consider how a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement might benefit you.
1. Open Communication Before Your Marriage
Choosing to establish a prenuptial agreement before your marriage takes place could help you understand a great deal about your spouse. A prenuptial agreement does more than just protect you in the event of a divorce, it also helps to encourage communication between spouses about important issues. While creating a prenup, the spouses can discuss and establish how they will handle property rights, obligations, debts, and other key aspects of their recently joined assets. Even though these things may seem inconsequential in light of your pending nuptials, it is extremely important for couples to understand where their goals and expectations lie. Having these discussions and negotiating a prenuptial agreement can help you both establish your respective rights and obligations.
2. Understand the Rights and Obligations of Each Spouse During Marriage
If you did not establish a prenuptial agreement before your marriage, you and your spouse may choose to create a postnuptial agreement while you are still married. A postnuptial agreement can do everything a prenup will, the only difference is when it is established. It can still help to address marital rights and obligations and create protections in case the marriage ends in a divorce or separation. Even though you’re already married, it is always important to work on clear communication with your spouse. A marital agreement will help you open the lines of communication and provide you with a platform through which you can discuss important financial and property matters.
3. Protect Your Assets
One of the biggest benefits of establishing any type of marital agreement is the way in which it allows you to protect your property. If your marriage should end in divorce, or if one spouse should die before the other, the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can dictate how certain assets should be handled or divided. This might include your home, vacation properties, vehicles, funds, or other important assets. Also, if one spouse has an inheritance or heirlooms, they can ensure that those properties remain separate from the community property shared in the marriage. In other words, if your marriage should end in divorce, your marital agreement can help ensure you keep your own assets.
4. Preserve Your Business
If either party possesses a large number of assets or owns their own business, a marital agreement can help protect their most valued assets from property division. Whether you own a business independently or jointly, it is important to protect your company if anything should happen to your marriage. A marital arrangement can help ensure that you retain control of your company, rather than allowing it to be split or otherwise compromised if you should go through a divorce.
5. Protect the Interests of Your Children
You can also use your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to provide for your children. If either spouse has any children from prior marriages, they could provide a designated inheritance through the marital arrangement, or lock down other financial securities. You might also outline specific parenting decisions if the marriage should end in divorce. For example, you may specify that both parents will share custody, or that one parent will pay a certain amount towards child support each month.
If your marriage should end in divorce, your marital agreement can help keep things simple and limit contention. When you have an established agreement in place, it makes divorce negotiations, custody battles, property division, spousal support, and other matters much easier to settle because they’ve already been handled ahead of time. Also, when you made those agreements you were both level-headed, whereas the divorce process can make people emotional and frustrated. Having made your marital agreement in advance can help ensure your divorce negotiations are fair and just. Also, this can help prevent further contention or arguments.
Even if your marriage does not end in a divorce. Having gone through these important financial and property issues can help encourage communication with your spouse and sent clear marital expectations going forward.