While many people may shy away from agreements related to their marriage, the reality is that the rate of divorce continues to rise throughout the U.S. In 2014, nearly 50 percent of marriages ended in divorce. Given this statistic, it's easy to see why a nuptial agreement (agreement relating to marriage) could be a wise choice.
A pre or post nuptial agreement may be sought by spouses for many reasons. Perhaps one spouse has significantly more or less assets and wants to be protected. Or maybe there are minor or other children from previous relationships that the parties wish to look after, long term. Nuptial agreements can be used in a variety of situations, and there negotiation doesn't have to be a contentious battle.
What is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?
A pre-nuptial agreement is the standard type of “pre-nup” you've most likely seen on television shows or referred to in stories about the latest celebrity split. Pre-nuptial agreements are negotiated and signed before the parties are married. In addition to deciding how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce, pre-nuptial agreements can also spell out items such as which party is responsible for what household expenses during the marriage. Pre-nuptial agreements can also include clauses regarding distribution of assets in the event of the death of one of the parties while they are still married.
What is a Post-Nuptial Agreement?
A post-nuptial agreement is very similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, except it is entered into, or signed, after the parties have married. While this may seem odd, it is actually a fairly regular occurrence. Many couples use nuptial agreements as an estate planning tool. Circumstances may also change throughout the marriage that cause one party or another to request a nuptial agreement. Scenarios such as infidelity, changed financial circumstances of one of the parties, or the birth of children, all may cause parties to seek a post-nuptial agreement.
Do I need a Lawyer to Draft my Pre or Post Nuptial Agreement?
Until the1970's, Florida courts would not enforce the terms of any form of nuptial agreement. The reasoning behind this was that the courts believed that nuptial agreements encouraged divorce by contemplating the terms of a couple's separation, before the marriage had even begun. Many court cases and societal changes later, and Florida courts now regularly recognize pre and post nuptial agreements.
That doesn't mean you don't need a lawyer on your side, however. Negotiations of nuptial agreements, even when the parties are friendly, require a dedicated advocate to ensure your rights are protected. Nuptial agreements are binding legal documents. As with any contract, having a lawyer draft or review your agreement is a good idea. The last thing you want is to need to enforce your nuptial agreement one day, only to find it doesn't comply with some term of law.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.C. are available to assist in all of your pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreement needs. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your particular situation and have peace of mind for the future.