People describe relationships as matters of the heart, but marriage, separation, and divorce are legal matters. Complications often arise when partners disagree on their responsibilities or expect different things during marriage or if a marriage ends. Below are three legal agreements to avoid such complications.
1. Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a contract between two people planning to get married. The contract comes into effect once you get married. The contract terms spell out your responsibilities during the marriage and in case of a divorce.
Anyone can benefit from a prenup, even though many assume the agreement only benefits the rich. Below are some uses of prenups:
- Passing separate assets to children from prior marriages or relationships
- Protecting yourself from debts your partner incurred before the marriage
- Clarifying financial rights and responsibilities during marriage, like the management of marital income and joint bank accounts
- Determining asset division in case of a divorce
Ideally, you should broach the prenup subject before your engagement. That way, your partner doesn't feel like you are pressuring them into an agreement they don't want. Choose a time when you are both rested and calm for the discussions.
2. Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial (postnup) agreement is similar to a prenup, with the main difference being that you sign the postnup after tying the knot. You can use a postnup to describe the marital and divorce responsibilities. Whether or not your partner signs the postnup has no bearing on the marriage; the marriage continues even if your partner declines your proposal.
Note that prenups and postnups are only valid if you create and sign them without coercion. Both of you should also have a clear idea of what the agreements are. These requirements underscore the need to consult a lawyer before signing any agreement.
3. Separation agreement
Some people separate when they don't want to live together as a married couple but are not ready to divorce. A separation can affect your finances in several ways, especially when you divorce. For example, you might disagree on dividing the assets your partners accumulated or comingled with your marital assets during divorce.
A separation agreement can help you avoid such disagreements. The separation agreement details your expectations, responsibilities, and legal rights during the separation. For example, you may use the agreement to clarify how to use the funds in the family joint account during the separation. You can even decide who occupies the family home during the separation.
Contact a local lawyer to learn more.