The world has changed a lot over the last several decades, especially when it comes to certain views related to marriage. Financial topics used to be virtually taboo to discuss, as was the subject of divorce. However, with many more marriages ending in divorce these days, couples need to take a smart business approach to their finances, rather than an emotional one.
The foremost thought that surfaces whenever one spouse raises the possibility of creating a postmarital agreement, is whether something in your marriage has shifted without you even being aware of it. It can be a terrifying thought. It can also raise feelings of resentment and distrust when the idea seemingly comes out of nowhere. What couples should realize is that a postmarital agreement can protect the both of you in various situations, and not just benefit the spouse suggesting it.
A postmarital agreement is a contract
Postmarital agreements are created between a husband and wife after the couple has already married. This is different from a premarital agreement, which is entered into prior to becoming legally married. Aside from the timing, there is no difference between the two types of agreements, both of which are designed to be a safeguard for both parties whether your marriage ends naturally, or not.
It will help you change your perception of postmarital agreements if you can begin to see them for what they actually are – legal contracts. You enter contracts all of the time. In fact, your marriage is a legal contract that you were overjoyed to enter. If you own a home or a car, you entered into a purchase agreement, which is a contract. If you have a bank account or credit cards, you guessed it – they’re contracts. They weren’t awkward situations for you, and you certainly didn’t feel as though doomsday was on the horizon when you signed them. A postnuptial agreement should not feel any different.
Postnuptial agreements do come with some conditions and limitations. They can’t be used to set child support or determine custody for any minor children. They also cannot be incident to a contemplated separation or divorce.
What a postnuptial agreement can do for you
Once you and your spouse have come to the realization that you are just protecting one another as a precaution, the benefits become much easier to see. You each have the power to:
- Predetermine or eliminate alimony awards
- Establish inheritance rights of any children from prior relationships
- Designate who will be financially responsible for existing or future debts
- Determine the property division of your marital estate rather than leaving it up to chance with a family court or probate judge
With so many variables in life and no one having the ability to make predictions, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can maintain some control over important financial decisions now, just in case? If a divorce happens to become necessary at some point, a postnuptial agreement will also help minimize your litigation expenses since you will already have property division settled well in advance.
Is enforceability an issue?
A properly drafted postmarital agreement is enforceable just like any other contract. In North Carolina there are also certain conditions that must be met to enforce a postmarital agreement:
- Each party must have the opportunity to obtain separate legal counsel of their own choice
- No fraud or coercion may be used to obtain the agreement
- All assets must be fully disclosed by both parties before the agreement is executed
- Each spouse must knowingly and explicitly agree in writing to waive the right to judicial equitable division of assets and all marital rights in event of divorce
- Terms of the agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time of execution and at time of divorce or death
Hiring a skilled family law attorney is paramount to creating a sound postnuptial agreement that will accomplish the goals that you and your spouse have set out to achieve.
A postmarital agreement is just one tool in your arsenal to protect yourself and your spouse in the event of divorce or death. Let the caring and conscientious Charlotte family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC explain how this financial planning document can help offer you peace of mind no matter what the future holds. To schedule your consultation in our Charlotte, Boone or Weddington office, call 704-321-0031 or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.