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Different Types of Marital Agreements
Marital Agreements are a great way to avoid the high cost of litigation and come to an agreement on how marital property should be divided, support should be paid, as well as any other issue that is unique to a couple, in the event of a divorce. Marital Agreements can occur prior to a marriage (a Prenuptial Agreement), During or After the Marriage (a Postnuptial Agreement) and at the Dissolution of a Marriage (a Marital Settlement Agreement). Marital Agreements can be a great way to allow open and honest communication with your spouse, or soon to be spouse, while also alleviating any fears of substantial litigation or financial instability following a divorce.
Although Prenuptial Agreements can often have a stigma, the reality is that they can be an extremely useful tool in setting a marriage off on the right foot. A Prenuptial Agreement will require a level of transparency between the parties as to what assets and debts the other spouse has, as well as what they expect to retain in the event that the marriage results in an irreconcilable breakdown. Of course, it is the intent of every couple that they enter their marriage with the intent of living a happy and healthy life together, however, a Prenuptial Agreement allows for a couple to have a plan in the event it does not work out, that will help minimize hostility or lengthy litigation.
Prenuptial Agreements are often very useful for couples who have one or more spouses that share or shares business interests, property interests, or other jointly owned assets with a third party. They can be useful for couples who have income producing premarital property that they wish to keep separate, such as premarital retirement accounts, investment properties, or other interest-bearing accounts.
Further, a Prenuptial agreement can be great for couples who plan to have children and wish for one of the spouses to be a stay-at-home parent. As rewarding as staying home with children can be, it also can place a lot of insecurity for a spouse who may potentially be giving up a career or the ability to earn an income, and the consequences of that following a divorce.
There are many reasons that couples seek Prenuptial Agreements, and they can be very instrumental in helping both spouses enter a marriage with more clarity and a sense of security.
Postnuptial Agreements are less thought of than Prenuptial Agreements, but they can be another useful tool in determining how assets are going to be divided and how support will be paid following a Dissolution of Marriage. Postnuptial agreements may be entered into for similar reasons to which Prenuptial Agreements are entered, however, they are entered into during the marriage.
Entering into a Postnuptial Agreement can be a good alternative to Divorce in certain marriages. If a couple is struggling or worries that in the future, they may get divorced, it could be helpful to enter into a Postnuptial Agreement while both spouses are on good terms to avoid lengthy or hostile litigation in the future.
Post Nuptial Agreements can also be great for couples with children in the marriage. Perhaps prior to marriage children were not contemplated, but now that the spouses have children, they want to provide for support arrangements, or relocation restrictions or other children related issues.
The reasons for couples entering into Postnuptial Agreements is endless. They are useful in protecting assets, assuring spouses of financial support, and resolving child-related issues.
Marital Settlement Agreements
Marital Settlement Agreements are a great way to avoid costly litigation during a Dissolution of Marriage proceeding. Spouses may go to mediation to decide how they want to divide their assets, pay support, and allocate timesharing with any children common to the parties. By coming to an agreement together, a couple can avoid excessive discovery and litigation, as well as avoid the worry of what the Court will potentially do. The Court is required to follow certain guidelines when addressing any support or equitable distribution award as well as issues involving children. However, those guidelines often allow for a decent amount of discretion. Coming to an agreement with your spouse allows you to have more control over the outcome of your case.
Important Note: For Marital Settlement Agreements that involve children’s issues it is important to know that Marital Settlement Agreements that make provisions for Timesharing, Parenting Plans, and Child Support, must be reviewed and approved by the Court, in order to be valid. Provisions agreed to that are found to not be in the child’s “best interests” will not be upheld.
Avoid Insecurity and Prevent Animosity
The goal of Marital Agreements is not to make one or both spouses feel less than, or inferior to the other spouse. They are also not to make a spouse feel accused of wanting to take from another spouse. Marital Agreements can be used both ways, to ensure future support and entitlement to certain assets, as well as protecting certain assets. However, in either situation, they are a great tool for minimizing the emotional and financial impact that litigation can have on a couple in the event of divorce.
Marital Agreements are a great way for couples to be on the same page when they enter a marriage, get on the same page during the marriage, and stay on the same page in the event of a divorce. If you are looking to tie the knot soon, or have just had an event change the way that you and your spouse look at finances or living situations, we encourage you to reach out to our team of Family Law Attorneys to see how you can minimize the potential impact of divorce down the road, protect certain assets, or even come up with ways to continue your marriage, with confidence that you will be supported every step along the way.
Please don’t hesitate to contact one of our team of Tampa Family Law attorneys today at (813) 907-9807, so we can get started on resolving your Family Law matter in the best manner possible.