You may have heard of prenuptial agreements, but you may not realize that married couples in Alabama can draft and ratify postnuptial agreements to protect each spouse’s interests and property rights should the marriage fail.
No couple wants to think about the possibility of divorce. But while things are going well, you and your spouse can come to an agreement about how you will divide your assets and debt should a divorce occur. Postnuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy. Any married couple has assets and debts. Many have impending inheritances, business interests, or other financial reasons they may benefit from a postnuptial agreement.
Alabama family law attorney Leigh Daniel can work with you to help you develop a postnuptial agreement and settle some financial issues that, when not addressed, can lead to problems in a marriage. As your postnuptial agreement legal team, Leigh Daniel Family Law can protect your financial interests while guiding discussion in a positive direction toward the development of a valid agreement that meets your family’s needs.
To consult an experienced postnuptial agreement lawyer serving Huntsville and all of north Alabama.
Understanding What is a Postnuptial Agreement
While a prenuptial agreement is created before a couple is legally married, a postnuptial agreement is a contract a couple enters into after they have married. The contract outlines what will be done with the couple’s property and financial assets and debt if the marriage ends in divorce.
In Alabama, divorcing couples are required by law to devise an equitable division of assets acquired jointly during the marriage. The division of assets and debts is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Valid postnuptial agreements can help prevent disputes.
How Long After Marriage Can You Get a Postnuptial Agreement?
There is no restriction on when a married couple can create a postnuptial agreement. Many couples obtain postnuptial agreements after a significant financial change, such as success at a job or business venture or a large inheritance. A postnup can address debt, too, such as student loans one spouse has taken on to go back to school.
Couples who have children together in addition to children from a previous marriage may seek provisions in a postnup to ensure that each child’s financial interests – day-to-day support, higher education, travel, and cultural opportunities – receive the same attention.
Sometimes, a change in the couple’s relationship creates interest in resolving issues in a post-nup agreement. If a divorce does occur, a postnuptial agreement can spare a couple from having to make important financial decisions in a time of heightened emotions and stress.
How To Draft a Fair Postnuptial Agreement in Alabama
When engaged as your postnuptial agreement attorney, Leigh Daniel can review an agreement you and your spouse have written or can start from scratch to help you draft an agreement that addresses your unique needs.
The best approach to drafting a postnuptial agreement is for each spouse to have their own lawyer to advise them, protect their interests, and ensure the final agreement is fair, equitable, and legally sound.
To start work on a postnuptial agreement, each spouse must make a fair disclosure to the other of his or her financial status. This means listing:
- All assets in your names together. These will be considered marital property.
- All assets in your names separately
- Anticipated assets, such as inheritance and employment-based stock options
- Debt, including student loans, mortgages, car loans, and credit card debt
- Obligations from prior marriages, such as child support or spousal support owed to former spouses.
Key Factors To Consider When Drafting a Postnuptial Agreement
Below are some issues typically covered by postnuptial agreements. Note where you agree and what will require discussion:
In the event of a divorce:
- Each spouse will retain sole ownership of all separate property bought, given, or bequeathed to them or obtained on their own.
- Each spouse will retain sole responsibility for debts assumed on their own, including premarital debt, regardless of joint payments during the marriage.
- How will responsibilities for any marital debts be divided, including things like mortgage loans, credit card debt, and other loans?
Jointly owned marital property will be:
- Sold with proceeds split evenly.
- Sold with proceeds split as stated in the agreement (if, for example, one spouse contributes significantly more to the purchase of high-value assets than the other).
- Divided between you as stated in the agreement.
If one spouse contributes to the other’s education, business, or professional practice, what will the recipient spouse owe the other? How much will one spouse pay the other in alimony, and for what amount of time will spousal support be paid? The spouses will make wills or a trust to carry out the agreement.
The Process of Creating a Postnuptial Agreement
There may require several sessions to discuss and finalize a postnuptial agreement. Most couples on good terms and acting in good faith can come to an agreement on issues related to postnuptial agreement. Remember, a postnup agreement is optional. If you cannot reach an agreement on certain matters, you can leave disputed issues out of the agreement.
To be legally valid, a postnuptial agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and notarized. A family law lawyer can provide the required witnessing signature. Both spouses need to understand the terms of the agreement and its legal implications before signing.
A postnuptial agreement is legally enforceable once both parties have signed it. The agreement must be fair to each spouse, or the judge presiding over the divorce can invalidate it.
What a Postnuptial Agreement Cannot Address
Postnuptial agreements in Alabama cannot address or require the following:
- Child custody and support. The court determines child custody and support payments according to what is in the best interests of the child, not the parents’ preferences.
- Illegal activity. You cannot contract with another person to perform an illegal act. You could expose yourselves to criminal conspiracy charges.
- Incentives for divorce. If the agreement encourages one party to seek a divorce, the court will set aside any provisions of the agreement affected by divorce.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Postnuptial Agreement Lawyer in Alabama
As your postnuptial agreement attorney, Leigh Daniel will protect your financial interests as you develop an agreement and ensure the final contract is fair and legally valid. At Leigh Daniel Family Law, our compassionate and highly skilled family law attorneys are committed to providing personal attention and meeting our clients’ best interests. Protect your marriage by scheduling a consultation about drafting a postnuptial agreement.
Call or text (256) 551-0500 or submit our Consultation Request form today.