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Family Law

Prenuptial Agreements & Postnuptial Agreements

Many individuals have a preconceived notion that prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy elite and celebrities. While prenuptial agreements are popular among those individuals, the benefits of these agreements extend beyond the realm of the rich and famous. 

No matter your status, every individual can take advantage of the benefits a prenuptial agreement can provide to a marriage.  A well-crafted prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help alleviate the unspoken “what-ifs” that arise quite naturally as two people begin combining their lives, and even after they have married. Marital agreements are essential planning tools that can provide the same peace of mind for your active life as an estate plan does for your passing. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in creating an agreement that ensures the protection of your assets and income stream so you can focus on other things. 

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial  premarital agreement, commonly referred to a “prenup”, is a written contract entered into by prospective spouses before the marriage that establishes the: 

  • separate property of each person
  • rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the marriage
  • rights and responsibilities in the event of divorce
  • rights and responsibilities in the event of the death of a spouse

Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements 

Prenuptial agreements are not romantic, they are practical. Practically speaking, the best time to plan for both financial matters and worst-case scenarios is when things are blissful.  Planning your future with your fiancé is the perfect opportunity to have an open dialogue about your expectations during your marriage as well as in the event of a divorce or death.  When both spouses have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations, a solid foundation to the marriage can be created that considers those expectations. A lawyer with experience crafting binding family law contracts, as well as with representing clients through divorce, will have the broadest range of knowledge and expertise to share with couples considering entering into a prenuptial agreement. 

Other benefits of a prenuptial agreement include: 

  • Identification and classification of assets and debts deemed as separate property not subject to division in the event of divorce or death.
  • Establishment of guidelines surrounding income and expenses both during and after the marriage.
  • Protection of future income and assets that may be acquired during the marriage.
  • Safeguarding of family heirlooms, inheritances, and other irreplaceable assets for the next generation. This has proven especially beneficial for individuals entering second marriages who must secure the generational wealth of children from previous marriages.
  • Protection of current and future business interests in the event of a divorce or death through spousal waivers.
  • Creation of a supplemental tool that protects and enhances your existing estate plan.

What are Postnuptial Agreements?

A postnuptial agreement is another type of marital agreement that also deals with the division of property in the event of a divorce or death, but is entered into by spouses during the marriage.   Postnuptial agreements have been likened to separation agreements, save the significant difference that the parties to a postnuptial agreement intend to remain together as a married couple.  

Though a postnuptial agreement shares many of the same benefits of prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements are limited to only property issues and cannot waive spousal support rights as a prenuptial agreement can. Regardless of which agreement is utilized, issues of child custody and child support cannot be addressed in either a prenup or “postnup” under North Carolina law.  

Do I need an attorney? 

It is absolutely critical that you have an experienced attorney assist you in both the negotiation and preparation of any family law contract. Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are legally binding documents. An experienced attorney understands the complexities and legal elements these agreements cover and require and can ensure your interests are safeguarded. 

If you are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or if you have received one from your partner, we can help.  Our family law attorneys at Hopper Cummings are well-versed in all aspects of family law contracts and negotiation. We can help you identify areas of conflict and offer creative resolutions to ensure that your wishes are clearly defined and your interests are protected. Contact us today for a confidential consultation at 919-533-4115, or complete our online form

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This article and all of the content on this website are intended for information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice or substituted for consultation with an experienced attorney. We strive to ensure the content on our site is current, informative, and based on North Carolina law and practice procedure in effect at the time of its writing and publication. Call our office to schedule a consultation at 919-533-4115, email us at info@hoppercummings.com, or complete a contact form on any page of this site for specific and accurate information about your unique matter.

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