Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are simply arrangements that provide definitive answers to many of the questions that arise during a marriage, including rights to property and earnings, responsibility for debts, and estate planning.  Such agreements also provide for property division, alimony, child custody, and visitation in case of divorce.  It may also provide for child support payments, but such provisions are still subject to court approval and must comport with uniform state support guidelines.  If a couple enters such an agreement prior to becoming married, it is a prenuptial agreement.  If they do so afterward, it is a postnuptial agreement.

Nuptial agreements have a negative reputation because they appear to anticipate the failure of a marriage before it even begins.  But while the desire for a pre- or post-nuptial agreement can be a difficult subject to broach with one’s spouse, having one of these agreements in place can, in some cases, actually strengthen marriage and increase its probability of success.

How?  These agreements can help avoid future conflict by settling in advance issues that married couples inevitably face.  By confronting these issues with a clear head at an early stage of the marriage, couples can avoid many of the emotionally charged arguments that can damage or destroy a marriage.  Even some marriages that are already under stress can alleviate this tension by settling issues through a post-nuptial agreement.

And should a couple ultimately decide their marriage is unworkable, having a pre- or post-nuptial agreement decreases the cost, duration, and emotional burden of divorce by settling the most contentious divorce issues—such as property division, alimony, and custody issues—in advance.  Without such an agreement, a divorcing couple must either agree to a distribution plan during the divorce proceedings or submit to distribution by the court.

Last update of the article: 06/22/2020.

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