Nuptial / Antenuptial Agreements
You and your spouse can enter into a contract that will govern how your property is characterized and should be divided upon death or divorce before or after you marry.
If you have assets that you want to protect from the reach of your spouse in divorce, have concerns about being required to support your spouse after divorce, or have children from a previous marriage you want to protect, you should consider negotiating a prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage. In order to create an enforceable prenuptial contract, both you and your future spouse will need to be represented by a lawyer and you will each need to provide a written disclosure of all of your assets. If you are considering marriage and have these or other financial concerns, you should discuss your situation with a lawyer to determine the benefits and costs of such a contract.
For those who are already married, but have similar concerns about protection of assets or children from prior marriage, it is possible to negotiate a nuptial agreement after the marriage. The stakes may be a bit different depending on the timing and issues to be considered, but when both parties are willing, it can certainly be accomplished. A postnuptial agreement can also be used as a condition for attempted reconciliation in marriages that have been rocky, but in which the parties are not yet ready to divorce. As with a prenuptial, in order for the contract to be enforceable, both parties will have to be represented by counsel and will have to make a full disclosure of all assets. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about whether a postnuptial agreement would be right for you.