Until the early part of the 1970s the notion of a husband and wife executing a postnuptial contract was considered impossible for the simple reason that a legal contract involved two or more persons who express mutual consent to the contents of the agreement being entered into. Since marital unity made a husband and a wife a single person, a postnuptial agreement, therefore, could never be legally valid, as one cannot enter into a contract with one’s self. This legal position was maintained even after US courts dismissed the concept of a man and a woman being only one person after their marital union, arguing this time that postnuptial agreements only encouraged divorce.
The rise of divorce rates in the 1970’s and onwards, as well as the recognition of “no fault” divorces, however, caused a stir in the legal stand, leading to the acceptance of postnuptial agreements in American jurisprudence.
Postnuptial agreement, otherwise called marriage agreement, post marriage agreement, postmarital agreement or postnup, is a voluntary written contract executed by a couple after marriage or a civil union. While some couples enter into this agreement to prevent conflict and promote harmony in their relationship, others choose to execute it to remove causes of disagreements over finances, assets, and other issues that may arise in the event of divorce or separation, control unacceptable behaviors, like over-spending or adultery, or set parameters over asset and property division (after divorce) due to changes in financial status brought about by changes in investment income, receipt of an inheritance, sale of a business or changes in one’s career.
While the validity of postnuptial agreements differs from one state to another, the criteria used by judges to define its validity are the same. These criteria include: its reasonableness to both parties; the contents of the contract are mutually consented to by both husband and wife; and, the full disclosure of each other’s assets.
A legal contract will definitely affect each other’s financial situation after divorce. Divorcing couples should consider consulting an experienced lawyer, like one of the Raleigh divorce attorneys, as this will be vital in helping ensure protection of their rights, interests, and futures. Furthermore, a postnuptial agreement can eliminate conflict and save the couple from heartache and significant costs in time and money so long as it clearly points out the terms of marriage.Read More