Maybe you want to protect your assets for your children from a previous marriage? Perhaps you want to work to fix your marriage before deciding to separate from your spouse, but want to decide your rights and obligations in advance of a future separation? Or maybe you just came into a large sum of money that you want to protect in the unfortunate event of a divorce or your death? Regardless of your reasoning, a postnuptial agreement may be a useful tool to both know, and protect, what property you may receive (or be forced to pay) if you and your spouse decide to get a divorce.

In North Carolina, a postnuptial agreement is a contract entered into between a husband and wife during their marriage. Unlike a separation agreement, which is made in anticipation of an impending separation and/or divorce, a postnuptial agreement is often be used by happily married couples to clarify their rights and obligations both during and after their marriage. In order to be valid, a postnuptial agreement must be agreed upon, signed, and notarized by both parties.

Although parties generally have a broad right to enter contractual agreements, there are important legal rules to know when drafting and executing a postnuptial agreement. The types of issues that can be included in a postnuptial agreement include:

  • An agreement to release all property rights from the marriage;
  • An agreement as to how the marital property will be divided in the event of a separation and/or divorce; and
  • An agreement to bar equitable distribution (ED) in the event of a divorce, among others.

That being said, postnuptial agreements generally may not include a waiver of post-separation support, but under certain scenarios like if you are already separated it may be possible to sign an agreement waiving alimony prior to your reconciliation. Postnuptial agreements may not include provisions relating to child custody or child support.

Due to the multitude of legal rules and considerations that must be taken into account when drafting a postnuptial agreement, it is important that you consult with an experienced family law attorney before drafting or signing one. At Conrad Trosch and Kemmy, our family lawyers have decades of experience representing clients in drafting and executing postnuptial agreements, for a variety of reasons. If you are considering signing, or asking your spouse to sign, a postnuptial agreement, let the lawyers at Conrad Trosch and Kemmy help you ensure that your agreement is valid, and that your assets are protected.