People can enter into several agreements affecting marital property in Pennsylvania. The types of agreements are: an antenuptial agreement (“prenup”), a postnuptial agreement (“postnup”) and the marital settlement agreement. All three agreements can determine how marital property will be disposed of in a divorce. What is the difference between these agreements? Timing.
Two people who are about to get married can enter into a prenuptial agreement. Individuals owning property or having significant income prior to a marriage can enter into a prenup. A prenup can protect property and income in a divorce. A prenup can also control what happens to property that will be acquired during a marriage. For instance, if a fiance owns a house, he may want the house to be excluded from marital property. So, the parties can write a prenup to state that the house will remain the husband’s individual property after divorce. Or, what if one of the parties has significant income prior to marriage? The attorneys can draft a prenuptial agreement to prevent husband and wife from claiming alimony or spousal support after separation or divorce.
A husband and wife can enter a postnup agreement after they are married. Parties commonly enter a postnup after they have separated and reunited. Parties can also enter a postnup once the financial situation of husband or wife changes. For example, husband and wife marry and both are modest wage earners. Wife then enters and completes medical school. Wife’s income will likely increase during the marriage. Can wife protect her income from a claim of support or alimony by husband? Yes. Wife may enter a postnup with husband stating that husband is entitled to a set amount of alimony or no alimony in the event of a divorce.
Another example: Husband and wife are married and then go through a nasty separation where they argue over assets. Husband and wife then reconcile. Husband and wife may choose to enter into a postnup agreement to avoid fighting down the road.
Marital Settlement Agreements
A husband and wife can enter a marital settlement agreement after the parties have separated and filed for a divorce. A marital settlement agreement is helpful to avoid costly litigation. A marital settlement agreement allows the husband and wife to settle the dispute out of court. Once husband and wife enter into a marital settlement agreement, it can be either incorporated or merged into a divorce decree.
Pennsylvania courts presume agreements between husband and wife are valid. So, a court will not overturn the agreement unless there is evidence of fraud, coercion, or duress. The law requires disclosure of assets. The law also requires the parties have the opportunity to have an attorney review the agreement. Marital agreements can be simple or complex. The agreements can cover property, income, and even custody. Attorneys can also draft these agreements multiple ways. So you should consult with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney prior to entering a marital agreement.
Are you interested in entering a marital agreement or considering separation or divorce? Contact the Pittsburgh family law attorneys at Dodaro, Matta, & Cambest, P.C. today at 412-243-1600 to schedule a consultation. We serve all of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Washington County, Greene County, Westmoreland County, Fayette County, Butler County, and Beaver County in southwest Pennsylvania.