If you are engaged (or are already married) and want to ensure that you have a mutual understanding of certain obligations or specific divisions are in place, should something go awry in your marriage, then a Premarital Agreement (also known as a Prenuptial Agreement) or a Postnuptial Agreement may be the best option. These types of Agreements do not need to be viewed as a breach of trust, but rather, a way to ensure that a mutual understanding of certain obligations or specific divisions are in place. Jennifer R. Ward, Esquire was an active public speaker on this topic, including a matrimonial-related lecture series at The Latin School of Chicago Adult Education Program.
A Premarital Agreement (a/k/a Prenuptial or Antenuptial Agreement) is a legally binding contract, entered into by parties before their marriage that defines what will happen when the marriage ends, either by dissolution or the death of one of the parties. Prenuptial agreements are mutually agreed upon by both parties; thus, compromises can be reached, provisions can be explained, and there is an opportunity for both spouses to be heard on issues they think should or should not be included in the agreement. These agreements must be mutually agreed upon and like any other contract, if one of the parties was coerced, under duress, involuntarily signed, or otherwise executed the prenuptial agreement under false pretenses, it may not be enforceable to that end.
A Postnuptial Agreement is an agreement that parties enter into after they are married when they wish to provide for a specific division of assets or the fulfillment of certain obligations in the event of dissolution of marriage or death. Both types of marital agreements allow parties to sort through financial issues so that each has a clear understanding and expectation concerning their financial rights and obligations.