Marital Agreements

Prior to Marriage

Prenuptial agreements, sometimes called “pre-marital agreements,” are contracts that provide for what will happen to property in the event of separation, divorce or death, including whether one or the other spouse will or will not receive spousal support or how much they would receive. As long as both parties understand what they are signing and neither party is misleading the other, such agreements will be enforced by the court – even if they are unfair. We can help you by reviewing a premarital agreement you are being asked to sign or by drafting one for you to bring to a prospective spouse.

Special for Seniors: Senior considering remarriage have a number of unique issues to anticipate, and should seek legal advice from someone proficient in these considerations. Our firm focuses on these needs, so please give us a call! For more information, see our Marital Agreements page. For an initial response to your facts Submit a Question

During Marriage

A postnuptial agreement, sometimes called a “marital agreement,” works essentially the same way as a prenuptial agreement (see above), but is signed once a marriage already exists. It provides for the respective rights of the spouses in the event of separation, divorce or death, and is sometimes chosen simply because there was no time to complete an agreement before the marriage took place.

Separation Agreements

When spouses choose to separate, certain questions can arise immediately, such as caring for children, use of the marital home, availability of income and use of marital property. Each spouse generally has certain rights that can be enforced by the court, sometimes right away. To avoid the ordeal of contested legal proceedings, spouses often choose to negotiate an agreement that resolves some or all of the issues that concern them during the period of separation (see below for divorce agreements). A separation agreement can usually avoid any need for legal proceedings until one or both parties files for divorce (see our Separation & Divorce Page).

Divorce Agreements

Also called Marital Settlement Agreements, or even just Separation Agreements, a Divorce Agreement can generally finalize all the terms of a divorce without the need for more than a very brief hearing. A court is only needed to legally end the marriage and to grant “official” custody (and also to order disposition of retirement accounts and pension plans – see Property Division on our Separation and Divorce Page), but otherwise, the parties can resolve all issues and present or potential concerns between themselves. Such agreements should always be very thorough and very specific, as they apply forever – and no one can predict what the future will bring. For example, one’s ex-spouse may marry someone one does not trust, can get into financial trouble or move to another country. No one should sign a Divorce agreement without the guidance of a Family Law Attorney.