It may seem pessimistic and unromantic, but prenuptial agreements are a smart move for certain couples. Drafting and signing a contract to protect each individual’s rights in case of divorce does not mean you are not committed to the marriage. It just means that you have valuable assets to protect and are realistic about the uncertainty of the future. The family law attorneys at Layton & Southard have worked with many couples to draft these agreements, and we will bring years of experience and sound advice to your pre-wedding planning.
Prenuptial Vs. Postnuptial: What Is the Difference?
Prenuptial agreements are signed before a couple is married. A postnuptial agreement, however, is drafted and signed by a married couple. Both types of agreements accomplish the same goal—establishing the rights of each party in the event of divorce—so why would a couple want to sign one after they are already married? Postnuptial agreements are usually drafted in response to a change in circumstances. Sometimes, there was infidelity and, in order to preserve the marriage, the couple decides to renegotiate the terms. Post-nups are also signed when one spouse comes into a significant inheritance or starts a business, or when an ex-spouse of one of the partners dies, and they become sole guardians for their children. Legally, there is not much difference between the two kinds of documents; it is simply a question of timing.
Who Should Consider Signing a Prenup?
We talked about some of the changes that might inspire a postnup, but who should consider signing an agreement before they get married in the first place? Many of our clients who are seeking prenuptial agreements fall into one of the following categories:
- Parents. Couples who have children from previous relationships may want to protect their children’s inheritance from being divided in a divorce.
- Remarriages. People who have been through messy divorces previously often want to avoid another ugly fight if they were to get divorced again. An enforceable prenup can eliminate some potential points of conflict.
- Business owners. Someone entering a marriage as a sole proprietor or partner in a profitable company might draft a prenup to protect the business from changing hands in a divorce.
- High net-worth individuals. Often the challenge of celebrities, a person who is coming into a marriage with significant assets—or as an heir to a family fortune—might want to ensure that their spouse-to-be is not just after their money. A prenup that cuts the spouse out of the wealth in the event of divorce is one way to do that.
While these are typical reasons we see for prenups, any couple can sign one if they think it will give them peace of mind about the marriage. We are happy to discuss options with engaged couples to determine if a prenup is advisable.
Considerations for Nuptial Agreements in Missouri
To be enforceable if a couple does, in fact, get divorced, pre and postnuptial agreements must be entered into willingly by both parties, and the agreement must be determined to be fair to both parties when it is drafted. Ideally, each party will be represented by their own attorney, and the agreement will be signed well ahead of the wedding so that it cannot later be claimed that one party was pressured to sign. Each partner must fully disclose their assets. If it is discovered during the divorce that one of the parties hid assets from the other, the agreement could be voided.
Prenups are unique to each couple and should address the specific conflicts they are hoping to avoid. Generally, couples want to keep the assets they bring to the marriage but are willing to split the assets they acquired during the marriage. Sometimes, a prenup is written for one spouse to protect a specific asset—such as an inheritance, real estate, or business—from the other spouse. Whatever your goals are, our team will draft a solid, enforceable agreement.
Contact Our Family Law Attorneys Today
From our Cape Girardeau and Perryville offices, the team at Layton & Southard serves clients throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Please contact us online or call our Cape Girardeau office directly at 573.335.3359 to schedule your initial consultation.