Protecting Your Assets: How Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Can Affect Divorce Settlements

Woman signing prenuptial agreement

If you enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your spouse or soon-to-be-spouse, the property distribution issues can be much smoother if you later divorce. These agreements cannot cover every aspect of a divorce, like child custody and child support, but they can address issues like spousal support and other financial matters.

An Alaska prenuptial agreements lawyer can help you draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and help you navigate the divorce process. This blog will discuss protecting your assets: how prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can affect divorce settlements.

The Difference Between a Prenuptial Agreement and a Postnuptial Agreement

There is one simple difference between a prenuptial agreement and a postnuptial agreement, and that is the time when they get signed. If you enter into one of these agreements before the wedding, the document is a prenuptial agreement, also called an antenuptial agreement. If you sign the document after getting married, it is a postnuptial agreement.

For purposes of simplicity, during the rest of this blog, we will refer to only prenuptial agreements as post-nuptial agreements are uncommon.

Issues You Can Address in a Prenuptial Agreement

People can address property issues like assets that each party already owned before the marriage, including retirement accounts, investments, bank accounts, business ownership, vehicles, intellectual property rights, and real property. When people have children from previous relationships, they often want to protect their children from losing their inheritance to the new spouse. 

Also, parties can agree on alimony, also called spousal support, in a prenuptial agreement, and how the parties will divide their separate and marital property if the event that they ever divorce. The property distribution can specify a percentage of distribution that changes with the number of years of the marriage. 

How a Prenuptial Agreement Can Affect Your Divorce Settlement

If the prenuptial agreement is deemed valid and enforceable by the divorce court, the judge will usually incorporate the terms of the agreement into the settlement and decree. Having a prenuptial agreement can remove the possibility of disputes over financial matters in a divorce as long as the agreement was entered into correctly.

People often ask the court to declare a prenuptial agreement invalid and unenforceable if they feel they will get treated less favorably under the terms of the agreement, and they have an argument about how the prenuptial agreement was drafted and signed.

Why Some Prenuptial Agreements Get Invalidated by the Courts

A prenuptial agreement needs to satisfy all of these factors to withstand scrutiny by a divorce court:

  • The agreement is in writing. Allegations of verbal promises cannot serve as prenuptial agreements.
  • Both parties must sign the agreement.
  • The signing of the agreement must have been voluntary by both parties. Frequently, one party will present the prenuptial agreement to the other party shortly before the wedding. A prenuptial agreement that gets signed on the day of the wedding or on similar short notice will be suspect on the grounds of voluntariness. Also, each party should have the document reviewed by their own attorney before signing.
  • Both parties should disclose their assets and debts or liabilities to the other before the agreement gets signed. Without this essential information, a party cannot make an informed decision about what marital property rights they might be giving up if they sign the prenuptial agreement.

With so much at stake, you will want to talk to an experienced divorce lawyer if you are considering entering into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Contact us for a consultation today.

Posted in: Divorce