According to a 2010 survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 73% of divorce lawyers reported increased demand for prenuptial agreements in the past five years. Most prenuptial and postnuptial agreements tackle financial issues, such as real estate, division of bank accounts and potential spousal support in the case of divorce or separation.
Couples seek prenuptial or postnuptial agreements for a wide variety of reasons, including:
- Couples who have children from prior unions may want to ensure that their assets go to their respective children, parents or another beneficiary.
- As the age of first-time brides and grooms continues to rise, couples entering into their first marriage are more likely to bring with them more worth than in the past.
- Couples entering into a prenuptial agreement make a full disclosure of their respective assets and debts, and describe their individual rights and obligations with respect to property (and debt) owned prior to the marriage, or property (and debt) acquired during the marriage, or both. This predictability can provide long-term security, whether you are the primary wage earner or a stay-at-home parent.
- Couples may simply feel that a prenuptial agreement will save them significant legal expenses in the event that the marriage does not work out.
- In cases where a couple is working through marital problems, a postnuptial agreement may allow the parties to focus their attention on repairing the relationship without fearing the financial consequences if their efforts are ultimately unsuccessful.
It is important to approach marriage as a partnership and to approach a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with a sense of fairness. Such agreements have the potential to protect both parties, to provide predictability and to even increase the likelihood that the marriage will be successful and long lasting.
Drafting an enforceable agreement can be incredibly complex, and getting it right is critical. Although the Court often upholds agreements made between two parties, there are a number of reasons why a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be vulnerable to attack, including:
- The agreement was not entered into voluntarily. Coercion or undue influence caused one or both parties to sign the agreement.
- The parties had unequal bargaining power. Ensuring that each party has their own attorney to advise them of the impact of the agreement is key.
- One or both parties failed to disclose their assets or debts.
- One or both parties lacked the capacity to read, or understand the terms of the agreement.
- There has been a change of circumstances since the signing of the agreement that makes the enforcement of the agreement unconscionable.
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When it comes to prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements, a one-size-fits-all generic form is a bad idea. You need to select an attorney whose practice is focused on family law. The experienced attorneys at McGinnis Chiappelli, P.C. have successfully represented clients in both preparing and challenging prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. We would encourage you to contact us to discuss your specific case. The INITIAL CONSULTATION IS FREE. We offer flexible appointment times, along with reasonable fees.