A marital agreement is a contract signed before or during a marriage stipulating how property is divided in the event of divorce or separation. Generally, a marital agreement must comply with established contract formation principles in order to be enforceable – including full and accurate financial disclosures by both parties. A marital agreement signed before a couple gets married is called a pre-nuptial (or pre-marital or ante-nuptial) agreement, while a marital agreement signed after marriage is called post-nuptial agreement.
If you have been asked to sign a marital agreement, or have been thinking about asking your partner to sign one, be sure to have your situation evaluated by our Fairfield County marital agreements lawyers well in advance of the wedding date if the request is for a prenuptial agreement. Our dedicated attorneys will play a significant role in ensuring that your financial interests stay protected. It is likely, and recommended, that your significant other will also obtain legal representation for this important matter as both parties in a marital agreement must have full and fair disclosure and legal representation of/for their interests.
Broaching the topic of entering into a marital agreement can be an uncomfortable, but a very constructive way to begin planning asset and liability division in the event of divorce or separation in many cases. No longer strictly associated with wealthy individuals approaching second marriages, marital agreements are valuable life-planning tools used by both engaged and married couples from across the economic and age spectrum.
Our Fairfield County marital agreements lawyers can explain and help draft the two main types of marital agreements:
Pre-nuptial agreements (also called ante-nuptial agreements or “pre-nups”) can cut down on the expense of litigation if a dispute over the marital estate arises at any future point of the relationship. While it is not legally required to have our marital agreements lawyers draft or review a pre-nuptial agreement in Fairfield County, there are a variety of specific requirements in which our attorneys can help couples handle including:
Before signing a pre-nuptial agreement, both parties must fully disclose their personal finances with the other, including their income, assets and debts. A failure to disclose this information can make the agreement unconscionable and void.
Anyone who signs a pre-nuptial agreement in Connecticut must have done so voluntarily, without duress or threat of force. If one party did not sign of their own volition, the contract is likely unenforceable.
Both parties to a pre-nuptial agreement must be given a reasonable opportunity to independently consult their own marital agreements lawyer in Fairfield County.
A pre-nuptial agreement must not be unconscionable – i.e., so advantageous to one party as to render the agreement fundamentally unfair – measured when signed and/or at the time enforcement of the agreement (i.e. upon death or divorce) is sought. The law as to what will / will not make such an agreement unconscionable or not is complex and difficult if not impossible to navigate without the assistance of our experienced attorneys.
All pre-nuptial agreements must be signed by both prospective spouses in the presence of a notary public.
The other type of marital agreement commonly used in Connecticut is the post-nuptial agreement – which accomplishes essentially the same goals as a pre-nuptial agreement, the only difference being that it is entered into after marriage and not before. Although post-nuptial agreements are not specifically mentioned in any state statutes, they are fully enforceable as long as the same requirements for pre-nuptial agreements are met, based on Connecticut case law, with one addition – that of “consideration”, which is a contract-law term, meaning a “bargained-for exchange.” Also, in Connecticut, the grounds for seeking to invalidate a post-nuptial agreement are slightly different from the grounds for seeking to invalidate a pre-nuptial agreement.
Our Fairfield County marital agreement lawyers can help a client exercise their right to enter into a post-nuptial agreement for any number of different reasons. Perhaps the client and their spouse ran out of time to sign a pre-nuptial agreement before the wedding took place. Or there may have been a significant change in the couple’s financial or romantic situation since they got married, warranting the signing of such an agreement.
Marital agreements such as a pre- and post-nuptial agreements may not be for everyone. But, an increasing number of people in committed romantic relationships find them to be useful as financial planning tools to help them avoid costly future disagreements over assets. Contact our Fairfield County marital agreements lawyers today for more information on how to get started and protect your rights.