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Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people before getting married that sets forth how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death. When a couple does not have a valid, well drafted, and properly executed prenuptial agreement, marital assets may be distributed against your will upon divorce or death. A postnuptial agreement is a contract by and between the spouses during the marriage, but has the same purpose; sets forth how marital assets will be distributed in the event of a divorce.

In the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, when your marriage is terminated by a divorce, the marital property will be equitably distributed between the spouses. Marital property includes all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage such as the marital home, money, a business. In some cases, pension benefits, professional degrees and/or professional licenses, and/or a professional practice may be considered marital property and be subject to equitable distribution.

While the term “equitable” does not necessarily mean that each spouse’s share of the marital property is equal, the Courts may equally divide the marital property between the spouses, based on the circumstances and facts of each case.

A prenuptial agreement, if you are about to be married, or a postnuptial agreement if you are already married, although some may view it as unromantic, is a practical, sensible, and intelligent way of avoiding costly litigation and emotional stress.  It is a way of protecting each other while you are in love, while you are partners, from the harm that will surely come if things get sour.  You should consider preparing a prenuptial agreement if you own a business, may receive an inheritance, have significant assets already, such a real property, bank account(s), have children from a previous marriage that you wish to protect financially, have prospect for business or career growth, or you are pursuing a professional degree or license that will significantly increase your earning potential, or one party is a lot wealthier than the other.