Although people enter into a marriage intending to make a life-long commitment to one another, the reality is that approximately 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce — and some marriages end many decades after their wedding day. Given this possibility, it is vital for certain individuals to have a plan to protect their assets and their family in the event of a divorce by establishing prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. It helps to think of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements like insurance policies: just as an individual invests in property insurance to protect themselves in case of fire or natural disaster and life insurance to protect their families in case of premature death, a prenuptial agreement is a safeguard in case of a divorce.
The experienced family law attorneys at Sweeney & Neary, LLP, are available to help you to draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to protect you, your assets and your family.
At Sweeney & Neary, LLP, our family law attorneys have significant experience drafting enforceable prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Our firm has handled many highly-contested divorce cases, where much of the litigation could have been avoided had the parties utilized a prenuptial agreement. With this in mind, our primary goal is to provide our clients with peace of mind and the opportunity to protect their interests and evade potential legal and financial pitfalls in the event of divorce. Each prenuptial and postnuptial agreement prepared by our firm is tailored to meet your needs as an individual, as a couple, and as a family. We are committed to helping you establish the kind of financial honesty and long-range planning that will make the financial side of your marriage partnership successful.
One of the most sensitive components of any relationship – and the cause of many heated discussions, especially within a marriage – relates to finances. The most controversial financial matters considered by couples prior to entering, or even during, a marriage often occur when:
- An individual has already achieved financial success;
- Either spouse is embarking into (what they believe will be) a successful career;
- Either spouse currently owns (or plans to own) a business;
- Either spouse plans to earn an advanced education/certification during their marriage;
- Either spouse has received, or expects to receive, significant assets in the future, including an inheritance;
- One spouse is entering the marriage with a significant amount of assets or debt; or
- Either spouse has children from a prior marriage or relationship.
A well-planned prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement can limit the issues which need to be addressed in a divorce, and, as a result, may remove much of the animosity from the divorce process.
Prior to entering a marriage, it is essential for individuals to have a plan to protect their financial and personal interests in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements help couples to avoid a significant amount of future stress by protecting many of the financial elements within the relationship: including businesses, investments, real estate, future earnings, appreciation of both marital and separate property, potential matters related to alimony/spousal support and a spouse’s rights upon the death of the other party. Upon entering into a prenuptial agreement, both parties must understand and willingly accept the terms of the agreement before signing it. When creating a prenuptial agreement, it is important for a couple to ensure that all negotiated and executed terms of the agreement are constructed in a fair and legally binding manner.
Occasionally, to avoid situations where divorce laws may dictate how a couple will need to divide their marital assets, a married couple may choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement allows a disputing couple to focus their efforts on working through a rocky period in their marriage while providing them with the comfort of knowing that their rights and responsibilities will be protected in the event of divorce or death of either spouse. Similar to prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements address many of the issues that arise during a divorce, such as: asset and property division (including retirement accounts, trusts, pension plans, and any future gifts or inheritances), life insurance, alimony/spousal support, allocations of marital debt and tax responsibilities.
The primary difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is fairly obvious – a prenuptial agreement is signed prior to entering a marriage while a postnuptial agreement is signed after entering a marriage. A couple is strongly encouraged to draft a postnuptial agreement when the financial status of either spouse has significantly changed. As with other marital agreements, it is extremely important that each spouse provides full and fair disclosure about their debts and assets while negotiating the postnuptial agreement.