Like prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements have become increasingly common. Postnuptial agreements are legal contracts between married spouses specifying a plan for dividing their combined property rights and interests if they should separate and/or upon death. While these contracts typically address the needs of a married couple who have not already formed a premarital agreement, some couples form postnuptial agreements that either replace or modify the terms of an earlier contract.
Addressing such issues can be difficult, but it may also leave you and your spouse at ease knowing that you two have reached a mutual agreement about property in the unfortunate event of a separation and/or upon the death of either spouse. Couples may not want to frame a marital contract for separation before they marry, but doing so at some point afterward might ultimately make their life together happier and more secure. If you are considering forming a postnuptial agreement with your spouse, you can find out how to create one and what it may include by speaking with our Greenwich postnuptial lawyers at SGCBBW.
In a handful of U.S. states, couples dissolving their legal bond of marriage are subject to community-property laws, according to which, divorce courts divide marital equally between separating partners. However, Connecticut does not have a community-property law, nor a Separate Property Law. This means that if a couple divorces or separates in Greenwich or any other part of the state, there are no automatic exclusions from the property pool which is up for consideration and potential distribution upon divorce. This also does not automatically mean that, for example, premarital or inherited assets are never treated differently either. Connecticut address such issues on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, for parties seeking to set “automatic” ground rules for what will or will not happen upon death or divorce, a premarital or postnuptial agreement is advisable in Connecticut. Similarly, when a marriage dissolves due to the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse may be entitled to a precise, fixed share of the deceased’s property according to §45a-436 and 437 of the Connecticut General Statutes, regardless of what the Will of the deceased spouse does or doesn’t provide. Again, a pre or post nuptial agreement would serve to add clarity and more certainty to such issues.
Absent a pre or post nuptial agreement and potential waivers that would be contained therein, a surviving spouse may take a 1/3 share of the Estate of their deceased spouse, regardless of what provisions did or did not exist in the decedent’s Will. A deceased spouse who does not leave a will dies “intestate,” and the share of the estate awarded to the surviving spouse depends on several factors, such as the other potential heirs who remain alive. In these cases, it may be a difficult and lengthy process to separate property, but this may be avoided by creating a comprehensive pre or post-marital contract.
In Connecticut, property obtained by one spouse before or after marriage does not extend by right to the other. Rather, married partners are free to form contracts and exchange possession of property with anyone, including their spouses, just as they can if they remained single. Legal responsibilities regarding property that generally belong to an individual spouse in their own name include:
In general, the property of a married person may not be seized to satisfy their spouse’s debt.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements occur at different stages in a couple’s relationship but have similar effects. A postnuptial agreement allows a couple who have not formed or wish to modify a preexisting prenuptial agreement to establish parameters while married for the distribution of property in case they separate. A Greenwich or Fairfield County spouse who is concerned about the allocation of assets if their marriage ends in a separation, or who has begun to reconsider provisions they agreed to in an earlier premarital agreement, can gain valuable information and insight by speaking with our postnuptial lawyers.
As with anything else, an unexpected separation causes less stress when spouses consider in advance how to respond to it. Assets obtained before or during marriage do not become the shared property of married spouses by law in Connecticut by virtue of the law if only one spouse holds legal title. Valid reasons exist for making the distribution of property more predictable upon separation by forming a postnuptial contract.
Some surprises are good while others are not. Limit the likelihood of a bad surprise coming up at an inopportune time. Speak with our Greenwich prenuptial lawyers about framing a plan that suits your marriage. They can apply their extensive experience to handle the cases that other firms will not take on. Call today to get started.