North Carolina Postnuptial Agreement Laws
When you’re madly in love with your spouse, you probably aren’t thinking about what you’d do if you parted ways with him or her one day — but you should be. Planning for the future through a postnuptial agreement gives you peace of mind if your relationship turns sour down the road and ensures that you’re both financially protected.
Although postnuptial agreements have a negative stigma attached to them, they are excellent tools that can prevent the bitterness of divorce and help you avoid making decisions in the future out of anger, vengeance, or animosity toward your spouse. Read on to find out how postnuptial agreement laws in NC can protect your assets — and maybe even your marriage — when you’re considering a separation or a divorce.
What Is a Postnuptial Agreement and Who Needs One?
Postnups Versus Prenups and Separation Agreements
It’s likely that you’ve heard of prenuptial and separation agreements before. These documents outline the division of a couple’s assets before they enter into marriage and after they’ve made the decision to separate. A postnuptial agreement is different in that it can be enacted during the marriage while the couple is still living together or has separated and is deciding between divorce and reconciliation. (If the couple has already decided to divorce, they will enter into a separation agreement.)
Postnups leave the door open for the couple to make amends and clarifies each spouse’s financial rights in case they aren’t able to patch their relationship. When properly drafted, the agreement summarizes property division matters surrounding personal and marital assets as well as spousal support, should the marriage end in divorce.
Everyone Can Benefit From a Postnup
At one point or another, all couples argue about money, especially when a marriage is faced with an abrupt change in financial standing and the two partners have different opinions about how to handle their finances. Nobody enters into a marriage thinking they’re ever going to separate, but it never hurts to have a postnuptial agreement to establish each spouse’s monetary rights after the separation. Having a written and legalized plan to settle financial disputes before they ever arise can reduce the strain on a relationship, increase the speed of divorce proceedings, or even strengthen a marital bond.
What Does a Postnuptial Agreement Do?
Allows for Prenup Revisions
Some couples enter their marriage under the protection of a prenuptial agreement and later experience an influx of wealth — a small inheritance or unexpected success in business, for example. A prenup only accounts for the assets obtained before marriage. In this situation, a postnup can be used to redefine the terms of the prenup to account for this newfound wealth.
Other couples enter a marriage without any kind of plan for dividing their assets in the event of a separation, and when their financial standing changes, they may choose to draft a postnup to divide up their assets in advance based on their circumstances and to protect themselves from the ugly effects of a potential future divorce and expensive litigation.
Protects From the NC Equitable Distribution Law
North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. Under this law, the courts will determine what is considered divisible marital property and split it as they see fit (if a couple does not have a postnuptial agreement in place at the time of their divorce). Postnuptial agreements nullify the equitable distribution law and allow couples to choose how they divide their money and property.
Supports the Victim of Infidelity
Everyone hopes the person they marry will want to be faithful to them forever out of sheer love and loyalty, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always pan out this way. Having a postnuptial agreement makes both spouses more likely to stay loyal to each other. An extra clause in your postnup, detailing financial protection for the wronged spouse and consequences for the cheating husband or wife, will act as a safeguard for both parties if the love fades and the trust is broken through infidelity.
We know that money can’t fix heartbreak, but having the financial security of a postnuptial agreement after infidelity can save you from further ruin and turmoil.
Safeguards Against a Spouse’s Crippling Debt
It’s not uncommon for people to get into marriages without a full understanding of their partner’s financial standing. An otherwise blissful marriage can quickly turn into a nightmare when creditors start attempting to seize your assets to pay back your spouse’s debts, but if you have a postnuptial agreement, you can protect yourself from this terrifying scenario.
Defends Business Interests
When a spouse owns a business, they might wish to keep their commercial ventures distinct from their marriage. A divorce could wreak havoc on a thriving company, so you might consider protecting your business from the start in your postnuptial agreement.
How Much Does a Postnuptial Agreement Cost?
The cost of a postnuptial agreement is an investment in your future. It will vary based on several factors, including the extent to which you disagree with your spouse about asset division, your current financial circumstances, the need for an audit, and whether you choose to use a mediator or a family law attorney. Psychology Today reports that postnuptial agreement costs can range, on average, between $2,500 to $7,000. This might seem like a lot to pay, but if you have significant assets, this amount is trivial compared to how much you’ll save after a divorce.
Postnuptial Agreement Law in North Carolina
In order for a postnup to be valid and enforceable in the eyes of the law, contracts between husband and wife must be drafted properly according to state and federal laws, and the state of NC has its own requirements to be aware of. You are not required to have a postnup by the state of NC, but if you do have one, there are three conditions that must be met in order for your contract to be enforceable:
- The contract has to be written
- It cannot contain terms that violate public policy
- It must be notarized by an official notary
In addition to these terms, both parties entering into a postnuptial agreement in NC are required to be fully transparent with each other about their current financial standings. If you’re ready to draft a postnuptial contract, you should work with a qualified and experienced family law attorney to make sure your terms do not violate the law, making your agreement null and void.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Postnup Agreement?
The state of NC governs several facets of family law, especially when it comes to postnups and the division of marital property. These laws dictate what postnuptial agreements can and cannot include, and they usually outline how the terms of the agreement are to be executed.
By working with a family law attorney, you’ll be able to draft a fair agreement that complies with all NC laws without having to deal with the complexities of legal writing by yourself. At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, our dedicated and supportive team can negotiate and write a binding legal document without errors or oversight, so if divorce is on your mind, get in touch with us to make sure your rights are protected. We take pride in crafting postnups that address the needs of both parties, and we listen to our clients to help them find the best options for their situation.
Call (704) 289-3250 today to request a consultation.