What Is A Marital Agreement?
Married couples usually agree to share assets, finances, property, debts, and liabilities. Unfortunately, when things don't turn out as initially anticipated, their marital assets will be subject to equitable distribution during the divorce proceedings. In the event of a divorce, legal separation, or death of one spouse, a marital agreement defines how the couple's assets will be distributed.
Furthermore, engaged couples have two options:
- Enter into the marital agreement before marriage (prenuptial agreement)
- Enter into the marital agreement after marriage (postnuptial agreement)
Both options ensure that the spouses are able to set parameters and terms of asset division in the event of a legal separation or divorce.
A prenuptial agreement (commonly referred to as a "prenup") is a marital agreement entered into by future spouses before getting married. Prenuptial agreements are even more essential when one of the two couples has substantial assets, or if one of them is expecting a significant inheritance from a family trust. A prenup can:
- Help determine asset division upon divorce
- Protect either spouse against liabilities or debts incurred by the other party
- Make provisions for minor children from a previous relationship or marriage
- Help protect estate plans
- Help ensure that family property remains within the family
- Help define each spouse's responsibilities and expectations
- Describe how finances, expenses, and household bills, will be handled
A postnuptial agreement (or "postnup") is a marital agreement entered into by the spouses after getting married. Even after getting married, you can still enter into a legal agreement to protect your family and future. A postnup can:
- Help determine marital property division upon divorce
- Help protect a family business
- Determine how debts or liabilities will be divided
- Help protect against the other spouse's liabilities or debts
- Help clarify each spouse's financial responsibilities during the marriage
- Define parameters for potential alimony or spousal support
- Determine what happens to their assets, real estate property, and other household belongings upon a spouse's death
The Truth about Marital Agreements
A divorce or the death of a spouse is usually accompanied by heightened emotions, psychological toll, and other financial ramifications. The purpose of a marital agreement is to simplify the asset division process and settle other financial issues. If you're considering a prenup or postnup, you should know that a marital agreement:
- Isn't "only for the rich and wealthy"
- Isn't "only for people who think they're going to divorce"
- Isn't harmful or unfair to the less-wealthy spouse
Rather, marital agreements can:
- Help define expectations
- Help draw clear boundaries, which can make your life easier in the long run
- Give you and your spouse or fiancé the opportunity for an open, honest conversation about what's important to either party during the marriage
- Prepare you for life's unexpected challenges
- Protect you in the event that something changes down the line
Ensuring Your Marital
Agreement is Enforceable
Under Ohio law, a marital agreement must be in writing and must be signed by both future spouses. Also, the family court can invalidate a prenup or postnup if the marital agreement seems unfair to either party. Therefore, when drawing up a marital agreement, retaining an attorney is crucial. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help simplify the entire process, meet all procedural requirements, keep the conversation productive, and above all, ensure that the agreement is valid and enforceable.
Work with a Knowledgeable Attorney
As you are planning to get married, it is also important that you prepare for life's expected events. In the event that things don't work out as anticipated, having a marital agreement in place can help the couples establish property rights, get financial security, protect accumulated assets, provide for their children, achieve peace of mind, and resolve disputes during divorce proceedings. An experienced Ohio family law attorney can provide you with the reliable legal guidance and advocacy you need when drafting a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
At Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA, our attorneys have devoted their careers to providing outstanding legal services and helping clients draft important agreements. As your legal counsel, we will review the details of your personal situation, help you understand the benefits and risks, and enlighten you regarding your possible legal options. Our team will help determine the best way to protect your finances, accumulated assets, children, and future, and work diligently to achieve a favorable outcome for every party involved.