What is a prenuptial agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are simply contracts or agreements that parties enter into prior to a marriage that set out what will happen in the event of the dissolution of a marriage. A good prenuptial can be used to protect both your assets prior to the time of the marriage and even possibly limit the liability at the end of the marriage, by in some instances limiting factors that can determine the amount of alimony that a spouse can receive. Agreements can also help prevent the parties' families from fighting upon the death of one spouse by protecting the family's interests and keeping the property from transferring to the surviving spouse.
What are the requirements of a valid prenuptial agreement?
To sign a prenuptial there must be complete disclosure of the assets (and debts) of both parties or the party desiring to keep his or her assets separate. Further, the parties should have adequate time to seek counsel, although the amount of time is taken on a case by case basis. Additionally, the agreement must be supported by adequate consideration. Fortunately, the fact of the marriage can be sufficient consideration to support a prenuptial agreement. Finally, like any other contract, neither party can be coerced or under duress at the time of the signing of the agreement.
I am already married, but want this type of protection. What can I do?
Obviously, if you are already married, you cannot have a prenuptial agreement. However, postnuptial agreements are the same as prenuptial agreements with the only difference being they are signed after the marriage. The downside to this sort of agreement is that a postnuptial agreement is usually harder to enforce than a prenuptial agreement. This is because continued marriage is sometimes not adequate consideration for the agreement, or a reason for the postnuptial agreement to be considered valid.