Marital agreements go by many names. Most commonly, people are aware of “prenuptial agreements.” They can also be called martial contracts, prenuptial contracts, and many variations of those same words.
When it comes to these agreements, you may have more options than you think. Specifically, the timing of the contract determines the type of contract you use. You can create a prenuptial contract, which is signed before the wedding. You may also draft a postnuptial contract, taking place after you are married.
Many factors can influence which contract is right for you. Throughout this article, we will discuss these factors, allowing you to consider which benefits your unique situation.
What Are Your Financial Considerations?
For some, the financial protections a marital contract provides are necessary and immediate. They have vast, complicated financial interests, and they must secure them right away. For people with established wealth, it makes sense for them to create a prenuptial contract. Then they can rest easy and focus on what’s important, their new marriage.
Perhaps, however, you are a young couple just building your careers. You aren’t yet certain of where your paths will lead, and you aren’t ready to lock yourselves into any financial agreements. For these up-and-comers, it may be beneficial to wait and use a postnuptial contract. Once the careers of each spouse are established, then it makes sense for the couple to work on designating and protecting their assets.
Marital contracts are not just for the rich. They can also manage the assets within the marriage. The contract can, for instance, dictate allowances among spouses. It can reserve certain assets for savings or the children. You can even use this agreement to manage the money, keeping a percentage set aside for bills, groceries, and the like.
If you’ve already been living together, and you have a financial system that works for you, you may want to use a premarital contract. This will simply put the proven system into writing, officializing it and removing the burden of creating any new systems. If, however, you are moving in together after the marriage or haven’t been living together for very long, you may want to use a postnuptial contract. This will give you time to do a little trial and error, figure out how the finances work best in your home, and go from there.
In fact, the length of time you’ve lived together can be a huge consideration for a pre or postmarital agreement.
How Long Have You Lived Together?
Many are surprised to learn that marital contracts can also assign roles to marriage partners. They can, for instance, assign one person to manage the daily finances while the other takes care of domestic duties. Perhaps there are particular domestic chores that each spouse is better at, and the contract gives them these permanent roles. There really are no limits to the ways a marital agreement can assign jobs, keeping couples from constantly renegotiating these roles.
Building a domestic rhythm takes time. You may assume that you are adept at a certain role, only to find yourself consistently failing at it within the relationship. If you’ve lived together for a while, and you have that domestic rhythm SOLIDIFIED, then a prenuptial agreement may be right for you. Through this contract, you are simply verifying what already works. Nothing needs to change; you’re just making your roles legally official.
If, on the other hand, you haven’t lived together yet (or at all), you should probably figure out what works for you, first. Take your time, use trial and error to see which partner best fulfills each role, then write it down in a postnuptial contract.
What Are Your Plans for Children?
Once again, it’s important to consider how firmly established your relationship is before creating your agreement. This is never truer than when it comes to kids. Children change everything, no matter how much faith you have in your system. Even if you already have children and have established a good rhythm, the introduction of a new child will alter it. Everything is affected, from the division of labor to finances to time management and more.
If you’re certain that you’ve had all the children you want (and you’ve taken steps to keep from having more), then a prenup may be right for you. You can decree your finances, roles in the home, and so on, since those rules are already in place.
If you’re still unsure of how many more children you will have (or if you haven’t taken preventative steps for having more), then a postnuptial contract may be better. After you know you’re done having more kids, you can commit your finances, roles, and so forth to writing.
Premarital Contract Before Postnuptial Agreement
The whole point of a marital contract is to bind each person to a legal agreement, whatever that agreement may be. For some couples, simply saying that they will wait to create a postnuptial agreement later may not be enough. Time, business, and forgetfulness can get in the way. The “postnup” never gets created, which causes problems in the future.
To hold yourselves to your agreements, you can create a thin, incomplete premarital agreement. Within the contract, you can state your intent to create a postnup later. You can create a deadline, stating that by a certain date, you will negotiate the terms of the postnup, create it, and officialize it.
It may not even be necessary to create a separate, postnuptial agreement. All marital contracts can be altered at any time. You can use your initial, small-scale prenup to determine the dates and intentions mentioned above. Then, once that date arrives, you can add your new agreements to the existing prenup, eliminating the need to create an entirely new contract.
Getting Legal Help
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you include a legal professional to help. While you can technically create these contracts on your own, this is not advisable. An attorney can help make sure your language is solid, difficult to dispute in court. They can also help you find areas you may have missed in your contract, helping you avoid future complications.
Trust our team to help you create a solid, legally sound marital contract. We can work to create a contract from the ground up, or we can alter existing contracts. For a free consultation, call (949) 558-2624 today, or contact us online.