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Prenuptial agreements used to be a touchy subject for couples because the perception was that going into this agreement is like anticipating divorce before the marriage even begins. But these days, more and more couples see the value of a prenup in protecting their future. Many compare prenups to life insurance: they hope they don’t need to use it, but it’s highly useful just in case.
Alongside prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements are also gaining popularity among married couples for similar reasons.
If you’re considering a prenup or postnup agreement, or if you need help with an agreement that already exists, you’ll want an experienced family law attorney on your side. Our lawyers at Shea Kohl Law, LC, are trusted in St. Charles, Missouri and surrounding cities. We can provide the guidance and representation you need for a fair prenup/postnup outcome.
Understanding what a prenup is
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that a couple enters before marriage, specifying how their assets and family matters would be handled in the event the marriage ends. The end of the marriage can mean divorce, separation, or even the death of a spouse.
Most prenups focus on assets and property division. Each party can outline their separate assets, which they acquired before marriage and would not be divided upon divorce. They can also specify how their shared marital assets would be distributed during divorce or in the event of one spouse’s death.
Other subjects that may be tackled in a prenup include spousal maintenance (alimony), limiting debt liability, management of bills and taxes, family-specific financial concerns, the use of mediation or arbitration services, and more.
Certain matters cannot be included in prenuptial agreements. The issue of child custody, for example, would be decided by the court based on the child’s best interests, not on the parents’ prior ideas.
Talk to a Family Law attorney for guidance on what you’ll want to include in your prenup and how you can ensure it is legally sound.
Advantages of a Prenup Agreement
The main benefit of a prenuptial contract is that it protects each party’s assets while minimizing complicated legal disputes at the end of the marriage. It’s common among divorcing couples to argue bitterly over who gets what, but a prenup can settle these issues in a way that both parties deemed fair.
Other reasons that couples get a prenup include:
- Setting fair parameters for spousal maintenance
- Securing the interests of any children from prior relationships (i.e., ensuring that your assets go to them or towards their upbringing)
- Clarifying inheritance rights in a blended family
- Adding to each party’s larger estate plan.
Prenups are especially advantageous if you have a high net worth before getting married or if you and your partner intend to build on your shared wealth, such as through a business. However, any couple may consider a prenuptial agreement regardless of their level of wealth. To craft a prenup that’s fair and beneficial to you, consult with a family law attorney.
Postnuptial Agreement: What it is and how it differs from a prenup
A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial, except the couple enters it after they’re married. They may decide to do this for any reason: they may have been too busy to make a prenup before the wedding, or they may have realized after years of being married that their finances have changed and that they need to delineate their assets.
In some cases, couples make a postnup agreement as a “safety” when an issue arises in the marriage. For instance, if one spouse discovers the other’s infidelity, the need for a postnup contract may become more apparent.
Prenups and Postnups in Missouri: Frequently Asked Questions:
Do prenups hold up in court?
In general, Missouri courts recognize prenuptial agreements. However, the agreement must be “enforceable.” Courts scrutinize the enforceability of a prenup, looking for qualities such as:
- The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
- Both parties must have entered the contract “freely, fairly, willingly, understandingly, in good faith, and with full disclosure.”
- The agreement is “conscionable” – it is not one-sided and does not strip either party of fundamental rights.
- The agreement has no illegal provisions.
- The agreement has no provision that encourages divorce.
- Both parties signed the agreement well in advance of the wedding. (If a prenup was signed right before or on the day of the wedding, this might indicate to the court that the signing was under duress or pressure.)
- Each party had legal counsel upon signing the agreement.
How do I make a prenup in Missouri?
Though some websites advertise do-it-yourself prenup forms, you and your soon-to-be spouse will need an attorney on each side to ensure that the prenup is enforceable. Many couples have had their prenups struck down by the court because of invalid provisions. Your lawyers can help you prepare a prenuptial agreement that’s fair and acceptable to the court. You also need to have the final document notarized.
How much does a prenup lawyer cost?
A prenup attorney may charge by the hour or with a flat fee. According to lawyer review site Avvo, attorney fees for drafting prenups range from $600-$800. However, other services may add to this rate, such as reviewing, renegotiating, and revising.
Can you fight a prenup in Missouri?
If you signed a prenuptial agreement but realized afterward that it’s no longer fair to you, it may be possible to have the contract thrown out with the help of a lawyer.
These are some situations where a judge may invalidate a prenup in Missouri:
- The agreement has unenforceable provisions.
- A significant change in circumstances has made the agreement unenforceable. For example, if one spouse develops an illness that makes them unable to earn for themselves, an existing prenup with a “no alimony” provision may no longer be valid to a judge. For this reason, couples should update their prenup every five years or so to ensure that it remains valid.
- One spouse discovers that the other was hiding assets at the time of writing the prenup.
Is there a time limit for writing a postnuptial agreement?
Since a postnup agreement is made after the wedding, can you do it after you’ve been married for years or decades? Yes, you can make a postnup contract any time during your marriage. There’s no time limit for writing or entering a postnuptial agreement.
Contact Shea Kohl Law, LC for Prenup/Postnup Help
Whether you need counsel for writing a fair prenup or are dealing with a tricky situation involving a marital agreement, Shea Kohl Law, LC, can help. Our law firm has been providing quality legal services in St. Charles County, MO, since 1984. We combine our decades of experience with personalized attention to each client, creating tailor-made strategies to give them the most favorable outcome in their Family Law matter.
Contact us today about your prenup or postnup. Call us at (636) 946-9999 or send a message through our online form.
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