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Postnuptial Agreements

Experienced Westport Attorneys Advise Clients on Postnuptial Agreements

An Alternative to Divorce

An alternative to the finality of divorce is the postnuptial agreement (sometimes also called a post marital agreement), which allows you and your spouse to continue to work on your marriage. A postnuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by married couples that provides for what will happen financially (alimony and the division of property) should the couple eventually divorce.  The postnuptial agreement does not require or mandate an eventual divorce, or even mean that the marriage will not work, but can provide a resolution of the financial issues should a divorce action eventually be commenced.  The purpose of a postnuptial agreement is, in fact, to facilitate resumption of the marriage on agreeable terms.

Connecticut Courts Apply Strict Standards of Enforcement with Postnuptial Agreements

Connecticut Courts apply a stricter scrutiny to the enforcement of postnuptial agreements because of the concern that the marital relationship may lead one spouse to take advantage of the other.  For this reason, while you and your spouse may outline the terms of any such agreement, you should consult with an attorney to ensure that the postnuptial agreement complies with contract principles and that you fully understand the rights you may be waiving by entering into an agreement to resolve the financial issues of a potential divorce.  Postnuptial agreements can be subject to challenge in Connecticut.  While the law in Connecticut approves of postnuptial agreements, there are ways in which one party may try to avoid the enforcement of the agreement.

Postnuptial agreements can be used to address the following types of issues:

  • Specify each party’s rights and obligations to property (real or personal property) – specific to whether either or both parties acquired the property during the marriage – and how that property is divided upon separation or divorce.
  • Quantify spousal support, noting that your financial circumstance can experience a substantial change between the time the postnuptial agreement is finalized and the time of a divorce.
  • Direct beneficiary/ownership rights of life insurance, annuities, and retirement plan assets;

Postnuptial Agreement Can Be Emotionally Difficult for the Parties

It is important to note that completing a postnuptial agreement can be an emotionally difficult process. Unlike prenuptial agreement that are drafted before a marriage begins, these agreements are drafted during the middle of a marriage when couples may share children, special confidences, and/or complex family dynamics. As a result, the required exercise of playing out and defining all the negative scenarios associated with a dissolution or separation often create an emotional and volatile dialogue. It is a process for which you definitely need to be mentally and intellectually prepared.

Needle | Cuda has been through this process many times and has the experience to help you decide if a postnuptial agreement is right for you and to help you manage the process if you decide to go through it.

Given the strict standards applied by Connecticut Courts to postnuptial agreements it is especially important to engage experienced counsel in drafting these agreements to ensure all your rights are protected and that your agreement will be both valid and enforceable over time.

Needle | Cuda, has experience on all sides of this issue:  drafting postnuptial agreements, enforcing them, and challenging their validity in court.

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