Marriage and divorce rates have declined over the past decade. In Alabama, divorce rates have declined 3.7 percent from 2008 to 2018.
While this decline in divorce is a positive outlook for married couples, a postnuptial agreement still may be valuable to a lasting marriage, as major life events can cause dramatic changes in your life and in your marriage.
Postnuptial agreements (also called postnups) are contractual agreements between a married couple at any point following the marriage. They allow the spouses to make a contractual agreement about matters such as how they wish to handle changes like receiving an inheritance, accumulating personal or business debt, or creating trusts for children.
While postnuptial agreements can address nonfinancial matters, they generally cannot make agreements on child support or child custody matters.
Postnuptial agreements can have advantages that suggest that the spouses simply are protecting one another. Postnuptial agreements can protect financial stability of both spouses, protect financial stability of children, define financial expectations of each spouse, define marital and nonmarital property, and simplify the divorce process if it occurs.
While postnuptial agreements can be beneficial in the event of a divorce, disadvantages can include the perception the couple is setting themselves up for divorce or do not trust one another, and the court may find the agreement to be invalid because it does not comply with the law.
The time when a nuptial agreement is signed determines whether it is a prenuptial agreement (also called a prenup) or a postnuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is signed prior to marriage, and a postnuptial agreement is signed after the marriage. Reasons for choosing one instead of the other vary depending on each couple.
Alabama law, specifically Code of Alabama Title 30 Marital and Domestic Relations, sets forth the laws on postnuptial agreements.
Alabama laws require each spouse to make fair and reasonable disclosure to the other of his or her financial status, enter into the agreement voluntarily, and divide property fairly and equitably, which does not necessarily equal 50/50.
A valid postnuptial agreement includes disclosure of each party’s property or financial status and signing the agreement voluntarily (meaning without being forced to sign it). Failure to fully disclose information or forcing the other spouse to sign the agreement can make the agreement invalid.
If you or your spouse have eloped, inherited money during the marriage, started a business individually or jointly, or had infidelity occur, a postnuptial agreement may be right for you. Also, depending on your life stage, such as a second marriage or marriage to a partner with children from a previous relationship, a postnuptial agreement may be right for you.
In cases such as these, you may need to protect your partner, your children, your separate property, or your business by setting forth how your financial assets and liabilities are to be divided if you divorce or die. A postnuptial agreement can help you or your spouse make decisions more easily during dramatic events.
If you need assistance with a postnuptial agreement in the Huntsville area, turn to the skilled family law attorneys at New Beginnings Family Law, P.C. for help. We will discuss your situation during a confidential consultation and will advise you of all your legal options. Contact us by phone or reach out to us online to schedule yours today.
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