When we think about marriage, seldom do we plan for what might happen if it doesn’t work. People don’t really go into marriage thinking about how it’ll end. However, while we all want to see marriages work out for the best, it would be wise to consider just what should happen if it doesn’t. After all, marriages are not all-binding. Sometimes, couples disagree, and either spouse can choose to walk away. This is especially true if one party feels the marriage has become emotionally harmful to them. When it reaches a point where the marriage is no longer beneficial for one or both spouses, it may be time to separate. When a marriage ends in divorce, you may be happy that you had the forethought to enter into a prenuptial agreement. If you didn’t enter into a prenuptial agreement, it may not be too late to reach an agreement in a postnuptial agreement for some of the issues. What is a prenup vs postnup, you might ask?
Prenup vs Postnup
Prenups and postnups are legal documents that determine what happens to the marital assets should the couple separate or should one be left widowed. These tend to include matters such as alimony, retirement benefits, and asset division. Couples sign these agreements to determine how those assets will be distributed and used should these events come to pass.
While prenups and postnups both stipulate as to what happens when a marriage ends, there are a few things that you need to know about the two and what might be right for you.
What is a prenup?
A prenuptial is a type of agreement that is signed before entering a marriage. Here, a couple normally decides what will happen to their assets should their relationship end. Alimony is often also addressed. Prenups are seen as unromantic given that it implies one is thinking about the end of the marriage before it even begins. However, these agreements can save an individual a lot of time (and definitely money) should things ever reach that point.
Couples that don’t sign a prenuptial agreement can find themselves at odds in a drawn-out court battle to determine who gets what and whether alimony is owed. Prenups, however, spell it out in such a way that some of the more difficult issues are already decided. Prenups can leave less room for argument given that it was agreed upon long before any personal issues came up. In other cases, prenups also help determine distribution in the case of death, especially if one spouse had children prior to the marriage and wants to make sure something is left to support these children.
What is a postnup?
A postnup is signed after a couple is married. In some states, postnups are not enforceable or what is enforceable in a postnup is much, much narrower than a prenuptial agreement. For example, a state’s law may prevent a postnup from being enforceable except as to probate matters.
Prenup vs Postnup – Which one should I get?
Prenups tend to be more enforceable in divorce courts and can generally cover a much wider range of issues. You can address issues such as alimony and asset division. It is easier to believe there is no coercion involved if the agreement was made prior to marriage. Aside from that, prenups allow a couple to make their situations clear before they even tie the knot.
This allows them to clear up any misunderstandings, open up about any financial misgivings, and establish order before committing their assets into the matrimonial pool. However, prenups are also seen as negative and unromantic. This can possibly affect your partner’s view of you should you decide to bring it up. Aside from that, an unexpected change in circumstances or change in the divorce laws might make certain stipulations harder to enforce if the divorce is not filed until a number of years down the road.
On the other hand, postnups can take into effect the current circumstance of the parties. However, they are often very limited in what can be addressed. They can be especially helpful if one spouse becomes likely to pre-decease the other spouse and to make sure both the surviving spouse and any children (especially from a prior relationship) are still provided for. This means that you can use a postnup to address certain recent circumstances that may not have arisen until after the parties married. Agreeing on a postnup can allow some married couples who are undergoing certain stresses in their relationship to refocus their energy on their marriage by ensuring the security of each and their children.
Why should these even matter?
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements matter because in the event of divorce or death, when you might not be at your best, having contingencies in place will help you make smarter decisions. They are useful in preventing one’s sudden fall into debt, loss, or otherwise and they are also good tools for partners to be more honest with each other about material concerns. These agreements are here to ensure your financial rights in your marriage. Given sound legal advice, these marital agreements can be tailored for many circumstances.
One more important thing to remember about both postnups and prenups. When contested, the Court tends to be very skeptical of these documents. Proof that there was a full disclosure of all assets and debts and that both spouses had their own legal counsel is often a requirement to have the Court honor a contested prenup or postup agreement. These are not documents you should enter into without the assistance of an attorney for each spouse.
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