What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

If you are already married and have not drafted a prenuptial agreement, you may wish to draft a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement covers virtually all the aspects of a prenuptial agreement, though it is drafted after marriage. However, when you draft a postnuptial agreement, the courts will generally treat your case with some degree of suspicion. Sometimes, complex marital issues may influence one spouse into signing a postnuptial agreement. Therefore, if the courts believe you or your spouse were pressured into signing your postnuptial agreement, they will most likely consider the agreement invalid. If you are considering drafting a postnuptial agreement with your spouse, here are some of the questions you may have:

What issues does a postnuptial agreement address?

We understand that proposing a postnuptial agreement to your spouse may be a touchy issue. This is to be expected, however, a postnuptial agreement has nothing to do with the confidence you have in the strength of your marriage, which should be clearly communicated to your spouse. However, whether circumstances have changed or you’ve just decided that you’d like to prepare for the worst, a postnuptial agreement may help you attain the peace of mind you deserve. Here are some of the most common reasons couples draft postnuptial agreements:

  • The couple did not define their financial relationship in a prenuptial agreement, and now hope to do so
  • One party’s financial circumstances have greatly changed. This can happen for any number of reasons, such as receiving a large inheritance, a job promotion, or the acquisition of stocks or investment options
  • Financial insecurity is affecting the stability of the marriage
  • Both parties wish to avoid the expense, stress, and uncertainty of a potential equitable distribution process
  • One or both parties wish to secure financial support for children from a prior marriage

How do I know if a postnuptial agreement is valid?

There are five primary qualifications for a valid postnuptial agreement. They are as follows:

  • The terms must be “fair and reasonable” to both parties
  • Both parties must have a reasonable amount of time to reach an informed and thoughtful decision regarding whether or not they should sign the agreement
  • There must be no evidence of manipulation, coercion, deceit, or emotional pressure by either party
  • Each party must retain separate legal counsel, or explicitly waive their right to counsel in writing
  • The financial status of each party and any of the assets discussed in the agreement must be fully and accurately disclosed

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The Partners at Townsend Tomaio & Newmark lead the firm practicing Family and Divorce Law exclusively. All Partners have been honored by their inclusion in the New Jersey Monthly Super Lawyers List for several years. They lead the boutique firm in handling custody, support, alimony, divorce, and domestic violence cases across Northern, New Jersey.

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