If you are married, do you know the legal implications of your marriage? Do you know your rights and responsibilities in relation to your spouse and relationship? Many married couples do not, and this is where a marital agreement may come into play. A marital agreement can be made before a marriage or after a marriage (i.e., prenuptial or postnuptial agreements), and creates open communication about what each spouse expects from the other as well as what will occur in particular situations such as a divorce. The topic can be uncomfortable to bring up; however, it can help greatly in the event of death or divorce and can ultimately ease anxieties about these unfortunate circumstances.
Marital agreements are favored in Pennsylvania and are generally presumed to be valid, binding, and non-modifiable by the courts. Because of this, drafting your marital agreement correctly and thoroughly is an important task. Below are just some of the issues that our experienced attorneys consider when drafting an agreement:
Disclosure – Make a thorough and accurate disclosure of your assets, liabilities, and income at the time the agreement is made.
Distribution of Property – Spell out how your property will be divided in the event of death or divorce.
Mortgages – If you have a mortgage (or mortgages), include ownership details and mortgage responsibilities.
Retirement Benefits – Include if/how you would like your retirement benefits protected or divided.
Remarriage – If you divorce your spouse, and they remarry, specify how that will affect you (for example, if alimony will end once the other spouse remarries).
Debts – Indicate who is responsible for joint or individual debts.
Education – Specify who is responsible for education funds.
Tax Issues – Include details about taxes such as if you will file married or jointly on your tax return and the effect on your income tax filings and refunds.
RELATED: Read more about what you need to know about prenups.
Drafting a marital agreement is not a routine exercise. Before you consider or enter into a marital agreement, you should seek our guidance as an experienced family law firm to ensure that it is fair, equitable, and enforceable. It is ill-advised to enter an agreement on the very eve of marriage, or without thoughtful consideration upon divorce. If your circumstances involve children, you will need to understand further complexities that arise because agreements regarding custody and child support can be modified by the court.
At Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby, we are deeply experienced in Pennsylvania family law and can help you to draft, implement, and defend a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. For more information, reach us online or call us at 412-261-4040.