A marital agreement is a contract between spouses who plan to marry or are already residing together or are already married. To be effective to transfer, waive, or modify the rights of a spouse, the agreement must be in writing.
Prenuptial Agreements in North Carolina
While it may be a difficult conversation to have with your intended spouse, addressing how assets would be divided in the event of a divorce or death is simply smart financial planning. A premarital agreement is a contract put in place before the marriage occurs that spells out in writing what the couple has agreed to.
One might think of premarital agreements being only for the wealthy, but they are becoming more common for people of all incomes. They are particularly useful for couples marrying for a second time who wish to preserve assets for their children from the previous marriage. You may also want to consider a premarital agreement to protect your premarital assets, such as a home or retirement funds, if you have an ownership interest in a business, or if you may be receiving an inheritance in the future.
If you are considering a premarital agreement, seek legal advice from a family law attorney. Having a family law professional draw up your contract will ensure that it is legally sound and it covers all aspects of your current and future financial picture.
For more information on prenuptial agreements, see our frequently asked questions.
Postnuptial Agreements in North Carolina
Postnuptial agreements are lesser known contracts, but they can address many of the same issues as a premarital agreement. The distinction is that they are signed after the individuals are married. A postnuptial agreement may be used for married persons to release, quitclaim or otherwise dispose of rights in which they otherwise would be entitled.
In some cases, such agreements are used when spouses separate with the intent to reconcile. However, according to the North Carolina General Assembly, postnuptial agreements “do not incite divorce nor separation, but instead can promote marital stability by defining the expectations and responsibilities of the parties.”
Postnuptial agreements may not waive or release spousal support rights, except when the agreement is signed during a period of separation when the spouses are contemplating reconciliation.
To be valid in North Carolina, a postnuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties; the agreement must be notarized, and it must not contain any provisions that may be contradictory to public policy.