Marital contracts for everyday couples

There once was a time when prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements were considered useful only for the very wealthy. Today, however, that is not the case as more and more everyday couples in Georgia and around the country take advantage of these marital contracts.

A New York Daily News article cited a statistic provided by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in which more than two-thirds of the nation's family law attorneys noted a jump in the number of such contracts signed in just a five-year period from 2005 to 2010. Societal shifts over the years have contributed to this change. Many situations common today make the creation of marital contracts highly beneficial to both parties.

Protection for pre-existing obligations

With more people marrying later in life and often entering into a remarriage in which at least one spouse has minor children from a prior marriage, the need to ensure continued financial support for those children is critical. A prenuptial agreement can be used to outline the provisions of an existing divorce decree with regard to this level of support.

This use of a prenup can make partners feel secure going into their new marriages and it can also ease concerns that may arise from former spouses who would be affected if financial agreements were not kept due to new marriages.

Clarification of estate planning wishes

Again, the increase in the number of marriages among older Americans comes into play here. This time, a prenuptial agreement can be a beneficial corollary to other estate planning documentation.

When a couple gets married after having children from other marriages, the husband may wish some of his assets to go only to his children and the wife may wish some of her assets to go only to her children. A marital contract helps to delineate these distributions from the beginning, preventing conflicts later on.

Assurance to stay-at-home parents

The Daily Beast ran a story that highlighted a unique and pertinent use of postnuptial agreements. This is in situations where one spouse agrees to leave the workforce in order to stay home with a child or children but no prenuptial agreement is in place. Understanding that a current income level may not be able to be reached again immediately after many years of not working, a postnuptial agreement can promise the at-home parent some level of financial protection if the marriage ends before work resumes.

Guidelines for couples

Marital contracts can be helpful in many ways from simplifying a high net worth divorce to designating post-death beneficiaries and more. People interested in prenuptial or postnuptial agreements should take care to set their agreements up correctly. Working with an experienced attorney from the start is recommended to ensure the legality of all such documents.