Agreements can be very useful tools for marriages and can come in handy during a divorce. Family agreements, including the settlement of disputes by agreement between husbands and wives, are favored in Pennsylvania and are generally presumed to be valid, binding, and non-modifiable by the courts.

Because of the seriousness of entering an agreement, it is critical that one understands the ins and outs of the agreement and how it can positively, as well as negatively, affect them before signing one. We advise someone wanting to enter into an agreement to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure they cover all bases and meet the requirements of Pennsylvania law. To help one get started, below are a few of the family agreements that one can enter along with a description of each:

Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement (sometimes called antenuptial or premarital agreement) is a contract agreed upon prior to a couple entering marriage. Some couples may think a premarital agreement is unnecessary and can cause one spouse not to trust the other; however, if the situation of divorce arises, couples may regret not having one in place. It can also serve as an estate planning tool whether there is a divorce or not. Having a good prenuptial agreement means understanding and recognizing the rights, income, debts, and assets of a future spouse, especially in the case of high net worth individuals. While it is not for everyone, this agreement can help a couple feel confident about their relationship because they are on the same page with all the details that can otherwise be difficult to discuss.

Postnuptial Agreements
A postnuptial agreement is a contract agreed upon after a couple enters marriage. This type of agreement is like a prenuptial agreement, as described above, except that it is created after a couple enters a marriage. As with a prenuptial agreement, this type of agreement helps a couple to discuss the difficult topics of finances, assets, support, and what would happen in the event of a separation or divorce.

Separation Agreements
Before committing to a decision as final and far-reaching as divorce, many spouses who experience marital troubles live separate and apart. The word “separation” can have different meanings to different people. In Pennsylvania, separation is more than the physical act of living apart from a spouse—it also includes communicating a desire to end the marriage. A separation agreement may be a means for a couple to address the financial aspects of living separate and apart while deciding whether to pursue a divorce.

RELATED: Read about these misconceptions about prenuptial agreements.

Creating an agreement is not a routine exercise, and the laundry list of items that need to be taken into consideration can be overwhelming. If done without the help of a legal professional, important items can be overlooked and the result can have a detrimental effect on one’s future. If you are considering an agreement, we highly recommend having an attorney assist you to ensure it meets the requirements of Pennsylvania law and is therefore binding and enforceable.

Meet with our experienced attorneys at Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby to discuss your situation thoroughly and assess your options. They can help you draft, implement, and defend a marital agreement. To learn more, contact us online or call our law firm at 412-261-4040.

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