According to a 2022 survey by The Harris Poll, 15% of Americans who have been married or are engaged reported signing a prenuptial agreement. While that percentage represents a minority of relationships, the real news is that 13 years ago, it was only 3%. The study also said four in 10 U.S. adults support using prenups, and 35% of unmarried couples say they will likely sign one in the future.
We have all heard of prenups, but now that more people than ever before are in favor of marital contracts, it is important to explain the options available to meet your unique needs. This includes prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
Prenuptial vs. Postnuptial Agreements
Perhaps the biggest difference between prenuptial and postnuptial agreements is the timeframe they are used for. A prenuptial agreement is a legal and voluntary contract between you and your soon-to-be spouse that is signed before the marriage. A postnuptial agreement, also known in the Texas Family Code as a marital property agreement, is signed and agreed to during the marriage.
The purpose of each is to create clearly-defined rights and obligations, with the belief that if there is a divorce, disputes can be resolved simply by referring to the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Below is a breakdown of issues that are traditionally acceptable to have in a prenup and/or postnup:
- Clearly defining which property belongs to each party
- Predetermining rights and duties for the marriage, including child care and career sacrifices
- Defining which debts existed before the marriage, who they belong to, and who is responsible for paying them
- What should happen to assets each of you owned before you got married if either of you dies or there is a divorce
- Defining what is considered separate property, community property, or mixed property
- The language that defines the religious upbringing for your children (existing and future)
- Whether money you or your spouse earn, acquire, or inherit during the marriage becomes marital money or not
- The ability to eliminate, limit, or set any future alimony obligations
Many of these terms are easier to define before you are married. If you are considering a postnuptial agreement, you and your spouse must work harder to determine how to divide assets that became community property the moment you said, “I do” and what makes the most sense for all parties.
Why Do Couples Seek Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements?
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are not mandatory. But if you decide to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it must be voluntarily agreed to and signed by both parties. For many relationships, either of these documents can be beneficial because it is much easier to discuss important marital matters when the couple is on good terms and not thinking about divorce.
If the marriage were to end in a divorce, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements help expedite the process for all parties involved and decrease the odds of a contentious court battle.
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Source: Nelson Law Group