What are Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements?

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are legal agreements made before or shortly after marriage when couples determine their rights and responsibilities related to property and debts. A prenuptial agreement is signed before marriage, while a postnuptial agreement is signed after marriage.

In general, both types of agreements outline the property and assets each party owned before marriage, and allows the original owner to keep that property in case of divorces or separation. Pre and postnuptial agreements also outline how the couple will handle joint property acquired after marriage. These agreements can also handle issues including businesses assets, financial accounts, mortgages, support orders, and provisions for children.

There are a few things to keep in mind when planning prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

  • Each party should have separate attorneys who can look after the best interest of each person.
  • During the planning process you should decide the basic scope of the agreement
  • Each party should fully disclose all of their assets and property during the process.

Though prenuptial agreements can guide a judge in the divorce process, they are not iron clad. Both types of agreements are closely examined, and a judge could decide parts of an agreement are not fair, then divide property and assets in a way deemed more fit. They can also be totally disregarded by the courts if it appears they were not made with the full voluntary and informed consent of both parties.

If an agreement was signed close to a wedding date, or if both sides did not have an attorney involved, the court may assume that one side was pressured into signing the agreement. If you are near the wedding date it could be better to wait until after the wedding and sign a postnuptial agreement. Creating an agreement likely to stand up in court is just one of the reasons it’s important to have the help of an attorney in crafting either type of agreement.