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THREE-PART SERIES: PART TWO - IT'S NOT TOO LATE FOR A POSTMARITAL AGREEMENT

THREE-PART SERIES: PART TWO - IT'S NOT TOO LATE FOR A POSTMARITAL AGREEMENT

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Are you married and wishing you had made a premarital agreement with your current spouse? Do you wish there were some kind of contract you and your spouse could enter into now that you’ve tied the knot? A post-marital agreement could solve these and many other issues for you.

A post-marital agreement is a legal contract that two spouses create when they put down their terms in writing, sign the document, and have the document notarized. So long as the agreement is not against public policy, once those three steps occur the post-marital agreement has legal significance as a valid and enforceable contract. While North Carolina General Statute § 52-10 provides the statutory authority governing these contracts, post-marital agreements are an excellent way for spouses to create their own rules for property or resources—especially in the event of a separation and/or divorce—versus relying on state law to determine the rules. While premarital agreements can be amended or revoked after the marriage takes place, post-marital agreements come into play where spouses did not sign a premarital agreement. Post-marital agreements simply serve as legally enforceable contracts between the spouses.

Spouses may choose to enter into a post-marital agreement for a number of reasons. For example, where one spouse receives an inheritance, he or she may want to insure either that the inheritance remains his or her separate property or that the inheritance is shared in a specific way with the other spouse. The same is true for large promotions or bonuses at work: post-marital agreements can distribute the funds from these events as the spouses desire. Alternatively, where one spouse loses his or her job or there is some uncertainty with the family’s financials, post-marital agreements can distribute financial responsibilities to each spouse in an organized and concrete manner. Finally, where a couple just wants to circumvent the state laws regarding division of assets and property in the event of a separation, the couple may create a post-marital agreement setting forth how the assets and liabilities should be distributed in the event that the parties do separate. By setting forth these terms in such an agreement during a calm time in the relationship, parties can avoid much of the emotional stress that comes with creating a complicated separation agreement down the road if the spouses do decide to live apart.

Spouses need not be separated or contemplating divorce to create post-marital agreements; these contracts are just a useful method to give legal status to certain actions or property distributions. In fact, some post-marital agreements are used to govern where or to whom personal possessions are to go in the event one or both of the spouses pass away.

Since post-marital agreements can be crafted for almost any purpose, they often involve multiple areas of law. Many of these agreements involve property, invoking elements of property law, or even spousal support, invoking family law, and all of them are contracts and thus involve contracts law as well. To make sure your post-marital agreement is well-constructed and won’t have destructive legal consequences in the future, having an attorney create one for you or at the very least look it over is always a wise decision.

If you would like to create a post-marital agreement unique to your needs, or if you already have one and need an attorney’s skilled review, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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