Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Monmouth County Postnuptial Agreement Lawyer

Everyone has heard of prenuptial agreements, where prospective spouses try to define how property and financial issues will be handled if the marriage comes to an end.

A lesser known but also useful tool is the postnuptial agreement, which addresses the same issues but is signed after the two people are married.

Such agreements can be very complex. If they are not written correctly, they can be held invalid by the courts, leaving the parties to the mercy of the state’s laws. That is why an individual needs a Monmouth County postnuptial agreement lawyer with specific experience in this area of law.

A knowledgeable Monmouth County family attorney can help produce a successful result on your behalf.

Understanding the Agreement

A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement executed after a couple gets married, or have entered a civil union, to settle the couple's affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce.

As is the case with a prenup, provisions vary widely but commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce, death of one of the spouses, or breakup of marriage. A postnuptial agreement attorney in Monmouth County can help an individual understand these provisions.

In rare cases, such a contract may be enforceable even without a marriage, such as with a domestic partnership or registered partnership.

Postnuptial agreements typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Agreements that will provide for the assignation of marital property at the time of death of one spouse. These agreements typically have the surviving spouse waiving any rights to property they would have had the right to inherit under a will
  • Agreements that are really separation agreements, entered into to avoid the time and cost of divorce proceedings. The disposition of property, other marital assets, custody, alimony and support are agreed to and the agreement is usually incorporated into the final divorce decree
  • Agreements that govern rights in a future divorce, usually limiting or waiving alimony and/or support and the division of marital property, which includes property obtained before the marriage
Enforcing a Postnuptial Agreement

What makes a postnuptial agreement enforceable in court includes whether the agreement is:

  • Written—an oral agreement dividing marital assets is not enforceable
  • Signed—both spouses have to sign the agreement
  • Voluntary—one spouse cannot threaten, deceive, or coerce the other
  • Fair—a postnuptial agreement cannot be extremely one-sided
  • Honest—both spouses must disclose information about their assets, income, and debts

Why might a couple decide to form an agreement like this after the marriage, after forgoing the chance to sign a prenuptial agreement? Sometimes, one spouse’s bad behavior or out of control spending during the marriage might prompt the other spouse to ask for a postnup.

In other cases, changes in the parties’ status or property arrangement may prompt a reevaluation of their situation. A postnuptial agreement lawyer in Monmouth County can help an individual gather this information.

What to Leave Out

Not everything can be addressed in a postnuptial agreement. Courts often frown on agreements that try to limit or do away with child support responsibilities. Provisions that cross the line in this area could render the entire agreement unenforceable.

A spouse has the power to negotiate the terms of a postnuptial agreement before signing, but once that signature is on the contract, it is too late to change it. Both parties should seek competent legal advice through a Monmouth County postnuptial agreement attorney before signing on the dotted line.

Applicability of a Separation Agreement

Separation agreements are synonymous with postnuptial agreements, and are just as similar and easily understood. However, some experienced lawyers are not advocates of these types of separation agreements or postnuptial agreements.

If the parties have a postnuptial agreement or separation agreement, many times, judges throw them out of court. They vacate the agreement. The judge deems it null and void because with a postnuptial agreement, people can make the argument that they were under coercion to sign the agreement.

Lawyers dissuade clients from separation agreements because many times they are paying extra legal fees. Consequently, an individual does not want to participate in the negotiations involved in separation agreements with the hope that they are going to reconcile.

Unfortunately, things are not working and the person must do the whole process again after the lawyers are paid thousands of dollars and then negotiate a separation agreement.

The technical argument is whether the agreement is still applicable. An individual can have a whole trial on whether the agreement is applicable. An attorney will also determine if somebody was coerced or not.

From a lawyer's perspective, a marriage is like being pregnant. Either the person is or is not. A separation agreement tries to make it look like the person is kind of married.

Contact a Lawyer

The financial and legal issues raised by postnuptial agreements are highly complex and often emotionally fraught. That is why it is critical to get advice from a postnuptial agreement lawyer in Monmouth County with experience in these kinds of cases, which will allow them to guide their clients to the best possible outcome for all concerned.