Philadelphia Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements Lawyer
Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery & Philadelphia County
A premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement, is an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage that becomes effective upon marriage. A postmarital or postnuptial agreement is a similar document that is created after the spouses are already married. Prenups and postnups are valuable tools parties can use to set their marriage on a firm foundation, offering comfort and security to both parties knowing they will be cared for and not taken advantage of in the event of divorce. Learn more below about prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in Pennsylvania, and contact the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane to get help from a Philadelphia prenup lawyer.
What can a prenuptial agreement be used for?
Prenuptial agreements are typically thought of as being used when a wealthy person is marrying someone who is not wealthy, to protect that person’s individual wealth in case of divorce. This is only one reason. The truth is that any couple can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. A prenup lets both parties know about and understand the other’s financial situation going into the marriage, including assets as well as debts. The parties can also make sure they are on the same page regarding the future, including having an open and frank discussion about what should happen in the event of a divorce, death, or some other significant event. Contrary to the belief that a prenup might spoil an upcoming wedding ceremony, spouses who start out with a prenuptial agreement often have a stronger foundation and better communication and enjoy a healthier marriage.
Common reasons and uses for premarital agreements include:
- A disparity in wealth – Wealthier spouses want to make sure they are not unfairly taken advantage of in a divorce, while less wealthy spouses want to make sure they are taken care of appropriately.
- A family business – A spouse who owns a business with other family members will want to protect that business interest for the sake of the family and make sure it is kept separate from being divided in the property distribution in a divorce.
- Prior children – If a spouse has children from a prior marriage, the spouse will want to make sure those children are not alienated from their inheritance due to the new marriage.
A prenuptial agreement can address all of these issues by deciding in advance how certain matters such as the property division or spousal support will be handled in case of divorce. A prenup can also require the making of a will or taking out a life insurance policy. Some prenups last indefinitely, while others are limited to a specific duration. The terms and conditions of a premarital agreement are left to the parties, and they can be creatively crafted to match each couple’s unique needs.
What are the requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement?
The Pennsylvania statute on premarital agreements does not set out a long list of requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement. In discussing the enforceability of a premarital agreement, the law makes it clear that the following must be present for a valid agreement:
- The agreement was voluntary – A spouse who was tricked or pressured into signing a prenuptial agreement could challenge its enforceability.
- Full and fair disclosure – Before signing the agreement, a spouse needs to be given a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party. This right to disclosure can be waived, but only if it is done voluntarily and expressly in writing.
A party challenging the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement must prove one of the above conditions was not met. The standard of proof is “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a higher standard than is typically required in other civil proceedings, including other aspects of a Pennsylvania divorce or child custody dispute. Philadelphia family lawyer Lauren H. Kane is a skilled, experienced and highly successful family law litigator prepared to represent you in a challenge to the validity or enforceability of a premarital agreement.
What is a postnuptial agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is just like a prenuptial agreement, except that it is executed during marriage and becomes effective when it is signed. A postnuptial agreement can accomplish all the same ends as a prenuptial agreement and is often used for the same or similar reasons. Sometimes one or both parties may not feel right about bringing up the idea of a prenuptial agreement, but after they have been married for a period, they feel more comfortable addressing the need for a postnup. Other times, a prenuptial agreement may not have seemed necessary, but changed circumstances create the need to execute a postmarital agreement. Common reasons for creating a postnuptial agreement include:
- A spouse develops a substance abuse problem, leading to concerns about the future of the marriage or safety of household finances
- A spouse inherits significant money or property
- A spouse builds a business during the marriage
- A spouse’s spending habits cause concern to the other spouse about the effect of debts on the household income
- A spouse believes a postnuptial agreement is an essential step toward saving a troubled marriage
Skilled and Knowledgeable Help with Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in Philadelphia
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement should be independently reviewed by counsel who is specifically looking out for your interests and can ensure the agreement is fair to you. For help negotiating, drafting or reviewing a Philadelphia prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, contact the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane at 215-918-9453.