In Virginia, postnuptial agreements (commonly shortened to “postnups”) can be as strong as prenuptial agreements. These agreements, if executed correctly, are valid and legally enforceable. Postnuptial agreements can be helpful documents for detailing the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the marriage and protecting one or both parties’ interests in the event of divorce.
Understanding a Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial agreement is a contract a couple enters into after they’ve been legally married. Conversely, couples sign prenuptial agreements before the marriage.
You don’t have to be on a path to divorce or facing challenges in your marriage for a postnup to make sense. In fact, executing an agreement while you and your spouse are in a good place can benefit both of you in the future.
A postnuptial agreement offers a range of benefits to a married couple. It doesn’t only involve protecting each person if they choose to divorce. The terms included in the contract can outline how to classify or use assets during the marriage and if one person dies. Creating a clear plan can relieve stress and prevent the uncertainty of dealing with difficult situations.
A postnuptial agreement can be valuable. For example, the agreement can address how a couple handles one person’s sudden increase in assets through a large inheritance from a family member. Does the spouse who inherited the assets intend to leave the inheritance to their children, split assets with their spouse if the marriage dissolves, or name a beneficiary in a trust?
Postnuptial agreements are also helpful for protecting one spouse if specific marital issues are causing problems that could become significant issues. For example, a gambling problem could create contention in the marriage and lead to an ugly courtroom battle if the couple decides to divorce. A postnup could protect the marital home, a family business, and other assets so the couple can work out the problem and continue in the marriage if that’s what they want.
Common Terms in a Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial agreement could cover various matters related to marriage, divorce, and the death of a spouse. Couples can include almost anything in the contract if it doesn’t violate the law. The most common considerations include:
- The assets either spouse will receive if divorce or death occurs
- How to distribute debts among the couple if the marriage ends or one spouse dies while married
- Responsibilities for expenses and finances during the marriage
- Whether one spouse will pay the other alimony and the amount and duration if they divorce
How to Execute a Legally Enforceable Postnuptial Agreement
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s laws don’t define the requirements for a postnuptial agreement. Instead, following the laws for prenuptial agreements are often necessary create a valid postnup.
The contract must be in writing and signed by you and your spouse voluntarily. An involuntary signature could deem the agreement invalid and unenforceable in court. For example, one spouse could dispute the agreement if someone coerced or threatened them to sign it.
Amending a Postnuptial Agreement
Making changes to an already established postnup might be necessary, depending on the situation. You can amend the agreement anytime during your marriage if you and your spouse agree to it and sign a new contract with the amended terms.
The most common reasons couples choose to amend their postnuptial agreements include:
- Starting or expanding a business
- Having children
- Significant increase or decrease in income or assets
- Tax changes
- Addressing new issues within the marriage
At Invictus Law, our family lawyers in Virginia Beach, VA have extensive experience helping couples with pre and postnuptial agreements. Whether you want to draft a postnuptial agreement or amend a current one, you can count on us to provide the knowledgeable counsel you need and deserve.
Call us at (757) 317-5125 today for a confidential consultation today.