Increased unemployment, continuing devaluation of investments, and a severe downturn in the housing market. These financial pressures can strain any marriage, but a survey of divorce lawyers across the county suggests that they are not leading to an increase in divorce. According to a recent article on Avvo, “Survey: ‘Divorce Down, Post-nuptials Up'” , family law attorneys across the country are reporting a slight decrease in clients seeking divorce, and a large increase in requests for post-nuptial agreements.
Most people are familiar with pre-nuptial, or pre-marital agreements. A pre-nuptial agreements is a contract between a couple made before they marry. The agreement can divide or allocate property, support, debt or almost any other financial element of the relationship between the couple. Participants to a pre-marital agreement may benefit from the assurance of knowing what will happen should the marriage fail. This confidence in a predictable outcome can reduce some of the financial pressures and strains of a future marriage, and in some cases lead to or result in marriage for those who otherwise might not.
Post-nuptial agreements are not as well-known to non-family law lawyers as pre-nuptial agreements. A post-nuptial, or post-marital agreement is similar to a pre-nuptial or post-marital agreement, with the main difference being that it is executed after the couple is already married. A post-nuptial agreement can cover many financial matters, or be more narrowly focused. A post-nuptial agreement could, for example, define the parties spousal support obligations. It could also allocate among other things, interests in investments, the family residence, or debt owed on a vehicle. Participants to a post-nuptial agreement benefit from knowing what will happen if their marriage fails. Working out potential or actual disputes, and the assurance of knowing exactly how financial issues will be resolved in the event of a divorce, can help a couple to relax and in some cases improve their marriage. In other cases, it means less issues to dispute at the time of the divorce.
Times are tough, and in tough times there are two special reasons to think about post-nuptial agreements. First, if you are worried and arguing about money, a frank discussion and reasonable agreement can help alleviate some of the tensions and fears between you and your spouse. In other words, An “even if we need to get divorced, everything will be alright because . . .” agreement. Second, if you and your spouse want to get divorced but are unable to now because of financial conditions, a post-nuptial agreement can wholly or partially divide the marital estate so that you can financially act and are not financially constrained until you file for divorce. This means that you may be able to sell assets, make investments, or begin a new career with the financial effects wholly outside of independent of your marriage.
Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements should not be prepared or signed by couples themselves. This area of family law really requires the use of separate independent counsel for each side. If you live in Southern California, the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein provides quality services for all of your family needs including pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Contact us to schedule a pre-marital or post-nuptial agreement family law consultation.