Marriage is a legal contract. Many people do not look at it that way, but at the end of the day, marriage is a legal transaction. You enter into a contract with another person to be legally wed for the duration of your life, or until you both decide to end the marriage. In today’s society, we are all keen to prepare for the unknown and for any circumstances that might arise. For this reason, many people today enter into prenuptial agreements that outline what will happen in the even their marriages end for some reason.
Did you know that there is also such a thing as a postnuptial agreement? A postnuptial agreement operates in a similar manner in that it outlines what will happen to assets and property during the duration of the marriage and also what should happen if the marriage ends.
Why Sign a Postnuptial Agreement?
There are many reasons that a couple might choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement. It could be that they did not think about their assets and property until they were already married, so a prenuptial agreement was not an option. Another common reason is that one spouse’s financial position changes. If there is suddenly a large increase in a spouse’s assets, or he or she is set to inherit property, it is not uncommon for a couple to use these financial changes as a stepping stone toward a postnuptial agreement. The post-nuptial agreement can make divorce proceedings less painful in that many decisions and issues have already been decided. Additionally, a postnuptial agreement supersedes other state laws surrounding divorce.
What Should a Postnuptial Agreement Include?
In Alabama, the Uniform Marital Property Act lays out the requirements that must be followed when creating a postnuptial agreement. In addition to satisfying any specific state requirements for a postnuptial agreement, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is important to note that a postnuptial agreement cannot dictate terms of future child support arrangements.
Now that you understand what a postnuptial agreement is and the source of its legality, it is time to get into the specifics of what might be included in a postnuptial agreement. Couples can choose which property and assets to include in the agreement, but the following are the common types of assets or property that appear in Alabama postnuptial agreements.
- The right each spouse has to property
- How the management and control of property will be handled
- How to dispose of property if the couple divorces or one spouse dies
- Spousal support upon divorce
- If there is a will or trust named to carry out the wishes of the postnuptial agreement
A common misconception surrounding post-nuptial agreements is that they are not enforced in court and therefore become useless during divorce proceedings. This is untrue, as postnuptial agreements are enforceable just like any other contract, provided there are certain requirements met. The following are the basic requirements to ensure the enforceability of the postnuptial agreement:
- There was full and fair disclosure of assets by each spouse in the making of the agreement. The financial status of each spouse was disclosed.
- The agreement was entered into voluntarily, with no coercion or force, by both parties
- The agreement is “fair” to both parties. What is fair for one couple is not the same for another, so this fairness assessment is evaluated on a case by case basis.
When can I Get a Postnuptial Agreement?
It is never too late for a couple to enter into a postnuptial agreement. At any time during your marriage, you are permitted to enter into an agreement with your spouse. In fact, it is probably the smart thing to do. It is important to have a plan for the future, even if you are not anticipating a divorce. It is never a bad idea to know what will happen should your current life situation change. In fact, couples can have multiple agreements that cover different topics.
Contact a Postnuptial Agreement Lawyer Today The family law attorneys at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC are here to help you with your legal needs. Whether you need a prenuptial agreement before your upcoming wedding, or your financial situations have changed and you and your spouse want to have a postnuptial agreement put in place, our attorneys are here for you. Do not let social stigma or any misconceptions others may have surrounding a postnuptial agreement deter you from seeking the advice of an experienced attorney. We are on your side and ready to help you. Contact us today for a consultation.