The last thing any couple headed to the altar wants to think about is the prospect of divorce, but in today’s society, divorce happens in a large number of marriages. More and more couples are electing to enter into prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to actually strengthen their marital bonds. A carefully constructed pre or post marital agreement can relieve a lot of stress that comes at times when a marital relationship can experience difficulties.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that a couple enters into before their marriage actually takes place. The prenuptial agreement is a legitimate and enforceable contract that outlines distribution of property, financial assets and terms for spousal support should the marriage end in divorce or with the death of one of the spouses. The contract is only enforceable after the marriage has taken place and will be voided if the couple decides not to marry, or one of the individuals dies before the marriage takes place.
The prenuptial agreement usually addresses the most important issues that arise during in a divorce. Depending on the couple’s assets and situations, the prenuptial agreement can focus on a host of issues.
There are a few areas that cannot be addressed in a prenuptial agreement. The rights and best interests of a child cannot be determined before a child is born, therefore child custody and child support arrangements cannot be addressed in a prenuptial agreement. In the same capacity, the couple cannot stipulate religious preferences for children that may result from the marital union. Child custody, child support and religious affiliations can only be determined in postnuptial agreements or in divorce proceedings once children have become part of the couple’s marriage.
Prenuptial agreements cannot stipulate any type of temporary alimony or spousal support arrangements to be paid before a divorce is final. While the divorce is pending, the marital couple will have to determine if temporary alimony or spousal support is warranted in the separation agreement when the couple files for divorce.
A postnuptial agreement is much like a prenuptial agreement but occurs after a marriage is in place. There are many reasons why a marital couple may want to enter into a postnuptial agreement. If one spouse comes into a large inheritance or is given a substantial financial gift, or inherits a family business or property, the postnuptial agreement can ease concerns about the distribution of this property should a divorce or death occur. The postnuptial agreement can also address a wider range of issues that occur in a marriage, including household responsibilities and agreements as to how many vacations the family can take.
Unlike the prenuptial agreement, the postnuptial agreement doesn’t have to be filed in court to be enforceable. Many couples will enter into the postnuptial agreement to protect assets for children from a previous marriage or relationship. Other couples enter into a postnuptial contract after one of the spouses has broken their marital vows with infidelity or depleting the family’s finances due to a gambling or alcohol addiction. In this case, the postnuptial agreement can actually help save a marriage that would otherwise end in a divorce.
It is always advisable for couples entering into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to consult with a qualified and experienced divorce attorney. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will be able to guide couples through the process of drawing up a fair and enforceable contract that avoids long and expensive delays if a divorce or death occurs. Each state has its own criteria for enforcing these agreements. This gives the courts the right to interpret the stipulations and conditions of a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement and decide whether to enforce those terms or dismiss the contract entirely.
Somerset divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Kisha M. Hebbon, LLC have a long history of helping clients through all areas of family law, including prenuptial and postnuptial contracts. If you or someone you know is considering entering into a marriage with a prenuptial agreement, or is already married and is interested in drawing up a postnuptial agreement, our team can help.
Call us at 732-873-6464 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Somerset, New Jersey and we represent clients throughout New Jersey including Somerset County, Middlesex County, Union County and including but not limited to the towns of Somerset, Franklin, Bridgewater, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Plainfield, Edison, Metuchen, Woodbridge, Piscataway, Old Bridge, Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth, Cranford, Summit, Union, Clark, Elizabeth, Berkeley Heights, and Scotch Plains.