Whether you are preparing to marry or already have, you may be wondering about your options for implementing a marital contract. Such contracts are commonly referred to as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, both of which can provide a long list of benefits for both spouses who may be entering into or leaving a marriage. If you are considering seeking out a marital agreement, even if you have already wed, you have few options to choose from. However, your options will depend on a wide range of factors, including the state you live in, the congeniality between you and your spouse, and more.
To help you better understand the concepts of prenuptial and postnuptial contracts, review the most frequently asked questions about marriage agreements, below.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Also called a prenup, a prenuptial agreement is a type of marital contract between two spouses that establishes rights to finances and property in the case of divorce. This contract is formed BEFORE a couple weds, hence the prefix.
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Also called a postnup, a postnuptial agreement is a type of marital contract that is formed AFTER a couple weds. Just like a prenuptial agreement, this contract is made between two spouses and establishes rights to finances and property in the case of divorce.
Do I Need a Premarital Agreement?
Most people think the purpose of a marital agreement is to protect the assets of the wealthier spouse, but they can also serve several other functions, such as protecting family businesses, inheritances, and more. In fact, some commonly seen clauses in prenup and postnuptial contracts are debt protection, savings contributions, finance and property division, clarification of financial responsibility, alimony, asset protection (businesses, family heirlooms, etc.), retirement, tax return filings (income, deductions, claims, etc.), life insurance and benefits after a death, and more. Talk to a Florida family lawyer for help deciding whether or not a marital contract is right for you.
Why Do Married Couples Get a Postnup?
Postnuptial agreements can also be used as amendments or terminations of prenuptial agreements. Sometimes, wedded couples change their minds down the road and choose to revise their marital contracts. Other times, couples feel an impending divorce and wish to streamline the process while also minimizing legal expenses. Additional examples include revisions to child inheritance protection, debts taken on during the marriage, changes to financial contributions (working wife converts into stay-at-home mom), and more.
What Makes a Marriage Contract Valid Under Law?
Overall, in order for a marital agreement to be valid and recognized under law, it must be in writing, signed by both spouses, and officially notarized. A prenup might be deemed invalid if it were forcibly signed or not read in full prior to signing. This could happen when a spouse misleadingly hands the other a large packet of documents containing the marital agreement and has them sign and date all of them at once.
Can I Make My Own Marital Agreement?
You can choose what you wish to add to your marital contract, so long as the other party agrees and it is within the law. However, it is not recommended to draw up your own without the help of a licensed attorney. Not only are marriage contracts very serious, there several requirements that must be met in order for them to be binding under law, making them incredibly complex as well. Furthermore, some states do not allow spouses to share marriage lawyers, so in some cases, each spouse will have to retain their own legal counsel. Even if your state allows you to share a lawyer, it is not recommended. Retaining separate legal counsel better protects your rights and liabilities.
Can Anything Be Added in a Nuptial Agreement?
Every state has a set of laws that regulate what can and cannot be put into a marriage contract. In general, some common restrictions include child support or child custody decisions, illegal acts, alimony waivers (Some states allow a souse to give up their alimony rights, although they look down on it or set limits.), financial incentives for divorce, and personal matters that are not financial.
Where Can I Get Help With a Marital Agreement in Florida?
Contact the Law Office of Shane T. Herbert at 407-887-7058 to get trusted legal advice and assistance for all legal matters related to marital law in Florida, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Our seasoned family law firm is based out of Orlando, and conveniently located in the Metro West area, within the Offices of Veranda Park, which offers free parking. However, office visits are not required for initial consultations, so you can inquire about your legal needs in the comfort of your own home. We can provide initial information over the phone or via video conference, such as Skype.