A postnuptial agreement is a contract between spouses. Couples often create postnuptial agreements in preparation for divorce, but there are other situations in which they may be useful.

Like prenuptial agreements, both the form and execution of a postnuptial agreement must conform to legal guidelines to be enforceable. An experienced marital contracts attorney can help with this process. Contact a Fairfield postnuptial agreements lawyer to learn more.

Purposes of a Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement. It can cover issues relating to a couple’s marital and separate property, but a postnuptial agreement could also address issues that arose during the marriage. They are effective in a variety of circumstances.

Replace an Outdated Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements often designate specific property as separate and establish how to divide marital property. They can address whether a spouse receives alimony after a divorce. Sometimes, a couple’s situation has changed so drastically since they married that the prenuptial agreement is no longer fair or effective.

For example, perhaps one spouse put their career on hold to care for a severely disabled child, or one spouse developed a chronic condition that left them unable to work. A prenuptial agreement that anticipated both spouses would contribute to the household income, contribute to a pension plan, and earn Social Security credits may no longer be fair. When both spouses agree that the prenuptial agreement is outdated, they can revoke it and establish their current intentions in a postnuptial agreement.

Prepare for Divorce

Couples without a prenuptial agreement can address property division and spousal support in a postnuptial agreement, assuming they are not doing so to avoid an impending divorce. If the marriage ends up resulting in divorce, a capable Fairfield attorney could then incorporate the postnuptial agreement into a divorce settlement document.

Shield a Spouse from Liability

When a spouse has acquired a debt or legal liability, their spouse is equally responsible for it in many cases. A postnuptial agreement could provide the innocent spouse with property or funds to protect them from being impoverished by the other’s debt.

Ensure Vulnerable Relatives Are Protected

Postnuptial agreements are sometimes used to ensure a vulnerable person receives adequate support if one of the spouses dies. These types of contracts are especially common when one of the spouses is responsible for an ailing parent or disabled sibling, or when one or both spouses have children from a prior relationship.

Establish New Rules After Marital Misconduct

Sometimes, one spouse has behaved badly, but the couple decides to preserve their marriage. A couple in this situation could use a postnuptial agreement to exact a price for past or future marital misconduct. For example, a postnuptial agreement could say that if a spouse is unfaithful, they must transfer their separate property of a specified value to their spouse to be their separate property.

Requirements for an Enforceable Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract that must meet certain requirements to be enforceable. Postnuptial agreements must be in writing, and both parties must sign them. Postnuptial contracts require consideration, meaning that each party must get something of value in exchange for entering the agreement. A seasoned Fairfield lawyer can draft a postnuptial agreement in a way that makes clear the consideration received is fair.

Each party must enter the agreement voluntarily, and cannot be pressured by the threat of a divorce. Both spouses must fully disclose their assets and liabilities before signing the agreement. Each party also must have the opportunity to consult with an independent attorney. Connecticut courts have held that a contract can be valid as long as both parties had a chance to consult a lawyer—if they decided not to do so, the contract is not necessarily invalid.

Postnuptial agreements are not valid if they are unconscionable, which means so one-sided that it is shocking and unreasonably unfair. Unconscionability is a high threshold, and courts often uphold contracts that benefit one spouse at the expense of the other to some degree.

Ask a Fairfield Attorney Whether a Postnuptial Agreement Is Right for You

Although less common than prenuptial agreements, contracts entered into after marriage can be useful in many situations. A Fairfield postnuptial agreements lawyer can help you decide whether it is an option you would like to pursue.

A local legal professional can draft an agreement for a couple or review an agreement to determine how it impacts a spouse’s rights. Call today to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable attorney.

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