POSTNUPS FOR RELIGIOUS REASONS
Postnuptial agreements are understood even less well than prenups, but these legal contracts can offer couples securities that allow them to move forward with more confidence in their choices. While every couple has their own personal reason for entering into a postnuptial agreement, some are motivated by religious reasons. If you are interested in learning more, consult with an experienced postnuptial attorney at Justprenups Law Firm in Florida today.
Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts that are created before the couple marries and that are executed upon marriage. Postnuptial agreements, on the other hand, are legal contracts that are created during the marriage and that are executed upon signing. If your postnup is entered into in good faith and does not have the taint of coercion – using undue pressure to get your spouse to sign something that doesn’t support his or her financial rights – the court is likely to uphold your contract. Just like any other legal contract, however, it must be able to pass legal scrutiny. Because postnups are drawn up after the fact and are less common than prenuptial agreements, you can expect the judge involved to consider your contract from all legal angles, which is why working closely with a dedicated postnup attorney from the outset is well advised.
Common Reasons for Postnuptial Agreements
Couples enter into postnuptial agreements for any number of reasons, but some of the most common include:
- To protect the inheritance rights of children born during a prior marriage
- To reinforce one’s estate planning efforts
- To address unexpected changes in wealth during the course of one’s marriage, such as a large inheritance
- For religious purposes
Some religions frown on divorce, and the devout are left with few options when they find themselves in marriages that are no longer viable. While some states offer such couples the option of a legal separation, the State of Florida does not, and this is where a postnuptial agreement can play an important role.
If you are at the point that your religious beliefs are stopping you from pursuing a divorce, a postnup may be able to help – by filling in as a substitute for a legal separation (thus allowing you to move forward with a life outside of your marriage without the need for a divorce). The one important caveat to point out is that you will remain married in the eyes of the law, and this means that you naturally cannot remarry unless you obtain a divorce.
Your Postnuptial Agreement
By implementing a postnuptial agreement, you can address the elements that would be addressed in a divorce and then proceed in accordance with this agreement. This way, if you do ultimately divorce, the terms will remain the same. It’s important to note here that your postnuptial agreement can only address financial issues and cannot include child custody arrangements. If you and your spouse cannot come to mutually acceptable terms regarding child custody, you’ll need to turn to the court to do so on your behalf. Further, while your postnup can address child support, the amount and duration arrived upon must at least rise to the level of the state’s child support calculation guidelines.
The Financial Terms Addressed in Your Postnup
If you intend your postnup to serve as a substitute for a legal separation, it will need to address the following financial terms:
- The Division of Marital Property – In the State of Florida, marital property refers to that property that you acquire together as a married couple (regardless of whose name is on what), and this property is meant to be divided equitably in the event of divorce. Equitably translates to fair, given the specifics of your marriage. That property that each of you brought into the marriage with you will remain your separate property – if you manage to keep it separate throughout your marriage – and this issue can quickly become complicated.
- Alimony – Alimony in Florida is called spousal maintenance, and it refers to payments made by the spouse with the financial means to do so to the spouse with fewer financial resources. Alimony is never a certainty, but when appropriate, it can play an important role in one’s divorce (or in what amounts to one’s legal separation). In determining the duration and amount of alimony, the court will take many factors into consideration, including the length of your marriage, the relative health of you and your spouse, your individual ages, your individual levels of education and earning potential, and much more.
By creating a postnuptial agreement that thoughtfully and fairly addresses these issues, you can execute a legal contract that serves a purpose that is very similar to a legal separation.
Why the Postnuptial Agreement Is So Important
If you are separating – rather than divorcing – for religious reasons, it’s important to recognize one very important legal point. You will remain married throughout your separation, and this means that any assets, properties, or debts that either of you acquires during this time is marital property that will need to be divided equitably if you do ultimately divorce. For example, if you are separated for a long stretch of time, and you enter into a wildly successful financial enterprise during this time, your spouse will be legally entitled to his or her share if either of you decides to pursue a divorce at a later date. A well-crafted postnup can help ensure that this doesn’t happen.