As strange as it may seem, a post-marital or post-nuptial contract might be the secret to a strong marriage. It could also heal the wounds that might otherwise result in divorce.
This can be especially true for people who are re-marrying and bringing with them separate assets, an inheritance from a deceased parents, or children from a prior marriage for whom they want to ensure protection of their inheritance. Having an agreement in place can save them the thousands of dollars it may cost them to secure in a contested divorce.
Post-nuptial or post-marital contracts can also be customized to meet the unique goals of each couple, whether dealing with chores or other household responsibilities and how these tasks might be divided between the couple, or addressing the use of therapy and relationship-building exercises in the face of a spouse’s infidelity.
What is a Post-Nuptial Agreement?
A post-nuptial agreement is a formal, written agreement created and executed after a couple marries or enters a civil union, with the intent to settle a couple’s assets and affairs in the event of a separation of divorce. It might cover matters such as property division, spousal support, death of a spouse, or the breakup of a marriage. In most states, child support and child custody are not included in a post-nuptial agreement.
There are generally three types of post-nuptial agreements:
1. One that assigns marital property upon death of one spouse;
2. One that creates a separation agreement in order to avoid time and cost of divorce proceedings; and
3. One that limits or sets forth rights in a future divorce, such as limiting alimony based on duration of the marriage, waiving alimony, or addressing marital property division.
Similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, there are certain legal requirements for the post-nuptial agreement to be valid (and these vary state-by-state):
• Written agreement
• Voluntarily executed without coercion or force
• Full and fair disclosure of assets, income, property, and debts
• Fair (not one-sided)
• Signed by both parties and notarized
When Should I Prepare a Post-Nuptial Agreement?
There are no guidelines for when to prepare your post-nuptial agreement. Some couples create one when tensions are high, others put one into place to protect assets and future assets. Before agreeing to any post-nuptial document, have an experienced family law attorney review it—especially if you are feeling uneasy about it. You can always negotiate the terms prior to signing, but not afterwards. Most agreements will withstand a challenge in the courts, leaving you stuck with something you might not want or should not have agreed to.
Contact Your Attorney
Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor in Northern Virginia are experienced family law attorneys who can help you navigate the process of drafting and reviewing post-nuptial/post-marital agreements. Please contact us today—before you sign.