What you should know about premarital - postmarital agreements?

A prenup (premarital agreement) establishes property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a separation or divorce. These contracts are used to protect assets of wealthy spouses but can be used to protect assets slated for children of a first marriage.

If you are already married, a postmarital agreement can be entered into.

What would you like to happen if you separate or divorce, or if either of you dies or are seriously injured while married? If you are unable to agree, how would you like to resolve your differences - mediation or arbitration?

Some issues to considered
• Property or investments acquired before marriage
• Assets acquired after marriage
• Contributions during the marriage
• Income
• Debts acquired before and during the marriage
• Payment of joint living expenses
• Charing for children you already have or may have in the future
• How to handle illness, aging and retirement

However, pre or post marital agreements have to be done with a degree of formality to be valid.

* They need to be in writing to be enforceable.
* They must be signed before the marriage.
* They need to be read and reviewed, but if with the aid of independent counsel.

Reasonable time is needed for review and consideration (last minute signing before the wedding would probably be invalidated by a court.)

Invalid or illegal clauses or incomplete or false financial disclosure will also probably invalidate the agreement.

Unconscionable contracts are generally invalidated by the courts, pre or post marital agreements are no exception.

It is important to speak to an attorney - most offer free initial consultations. With fifty percent of marriages ending in divorce, securing you and your children's personal assets should be paramount.