There was a time not too long ago when pre-marital and post-marital agreements were widely frowned upon by society. This is likely because many people felt it turned something that was meant to be sacred and holy into a financial matter, or rather that it doomed a marriage right from the start.

Thankfully, the general population has collectively moved on from these outdated ideas and accepted that sometimes things simply don’t work out. The truth is that not all marriages last forever. In fact, plenty of them don’t — and that’s okay! That is where pre-marital and post-marital agreements come in. These agreements allow couples to take control of their own financial future in the event that they decide to go their separate ways later on down the road.

What are Pre Marital Agreements?

Pre-marital agreements may be more commonly known as prenuptial agreements or prenups. In Louisiana, pre-marital agreements are also called “matrimonial agreements.” Whatever you choose to call it, it is essentially a contract that a dating or engaged couple creates before they enter into marriage. This contract establishes exactly how assets and liabilities will be divided if the marriage ends in divorce. The agreement goes into effect once the couple becomes legally married.

What are Post Marital Agreements?

A post-marital agreement, also known as a postnuptial agreement or a postnup, is similar to a prenuptial except in the fact that it is actually created during the marriage rather than before. Much like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement provides arrangements for how things like property, assets, debt, and income may be distributed between parties after a divorce. 

Who Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement?

Many people wrongfully assume that prenups are only useful for the wealthy upper class. The fact is, both prenups and postnups can be extremely beneficial to couples of all social classes. Not only do these agreements cover the assets and property of each spouse, but they also cover individual debts. With this in mind, think of these marital agreements as a sort of shield that protects you from potentially taking on your spouse’s liabilities.

Pre-marital and post-marital agreements are also useful in the sense that they allow individuals to keep certain significant items in their rightful possession. For example, take a precious family heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation. Including this heirloom in the agreement can ensure that it remains in the intended recipient’s hands and does not become shared property eligible for division.

There are many reasons why couples of all backgrounds and income levels should look into these marital agreements. Both pre-marital agreements and post-marital agreements are intended to help couples prepare for the worst, because unfortunately sometimes the worst does happen. But instead of looking at either agreement as a pessimistic view on a marriage, consider them a safety precaution that will benefit both parties in the long run. Best case, the agreement will never have to go into effect. Worst case, at least you are prepared. 

What is Included in a Prenup? What About a Postnup?

Every marriage is unique, and a marital agreement reflects that. As such, one prenuptial agreement is never going to look exactly the same as the next. However, in a broad sense, both prenups and postnups typically include clear distinctions between who will get what in the event of a divorce. That is, of course, when it comes to financial assets and debts. You may determine things like who will keep the marital home or car as well as who will need to pay mortgage, taxes, or insurance on them. You may also include conditions that establish retirement plans, student loans, or business assets. However, things like child support or child custody generally cannot be included in such agreements.

Will the Court Ever Refuse to Enforce a Prenuptial Agreement?

Courts in Louisiana will almost always enforce and adhere to marital agreements such as prenups and postnups. However, there are some exceptions. These exceptions may include the following:

  • The agreement was not fully or properly signed.
    • Both spouses, a notary, and two witnesses must sign the document.
  • One or both spouses did not freely or voluntarily sign the document.
  • The document has serious mistakes that make the couple’s intent for the agreement unclear.
  • One of the spouses was forced, threatened, coerced, or tricked into signing the agreement.
  • One or both of the spouses did not honestly disclose assets and debts to the other.

The best way to ensure your pre-marital or post-marital agreement will be properly enforced is to hire a family law attorney who is familiar with drafting and executing such documents.

Contact Family Law Attorney Michael J. Vergis Today

If you are considering a pre-marital or post-marital agreement, or if you have any more questions regarding these legal documents, contact Bossier family law attorney Michael J. Vergis today. Consulting with an experienced attorney like him can give you a better understanding of the importance of an agreement like this and help you get started with one. Call the offices of Michael J. Vergis at 318-698-3724 or complete the online contact form that can be found below.