New Canaan Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer
Although they may not be the most “romantic” thing in the world, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are a useful tool for many couples. In effect, these agreements are simply contracts that predetermine certain financial issues should the marriage end. At The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann, our Connecticut prenuptial agreement attorneys have extensive experience negotiating, drafting, and litigating marital agreements.
If you have any questions or concerns about prenups or postnups, we are more than happy to help. Call our New Canaan law office at 203-652-8018 or connect with us directly here to set up your strictly confidential, no-obligation initial consultation.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (or premarital agreement) is a written contract entered into by a couple before marriage that enables the parties to select and control many of the financial rights and responsibilities that each party will acquire upon marrying (such as property division or alimony rights), and determine what happens if their marriage ends either by death or divorce. Call our Connecticut family law attorneys today for help with your prenuptial agreement.
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement is a written contract entered into by a couple that sets forth various financial rights and obligations of the parties if their marriage ends either by death or divorce. However, a postnuptial agreement is signed after the parties are married. Other than the time it was signed, a postnup functions similar to a prenup. If you need help with a postnuptial agreement, contact our New Canaan family lawyers today.
Reasons for Signing a Prenuptial Agreement
The concept of a prenuptial agreement can have some negative connotations. Some mistakenly believe a divorce is inevitable simply because you decide to establish a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse. Some believe that the person requesting the prenuptial agreement does not trust his or her future spouse.
In reality, prenuptial agreements are used for any number of reasons and not necessarily because you don't trust your partner or think that things aren't going to work out. For many couples, prenuptial agreements are a means of protecting inheritances, business assets, family assets, or children's estate rights from a prior marriage.
For other couples, the desire for a prenuptial agreement is motivated by a desire to avoid the possibility of an acrimonious divorce in the future by resolving specific financial issues that necessarily arise when parties divorce at the outset of a marriage.
Doing so can provide individuals with peace of mind because the prenuptial agreement outlines how specific issues will be addressed in the event of a divorce, legal separation, or annulment at a time when the parties are loving toward one another. Notably, prenuptial agreements can offer individuals several options that do not necessarily follow the law and are customized to the couple.
Prenuptial Agreements Are Not Only For The Wealthy (a Common Misconception)
One common misconception about premarital agreements is that they are only for the wealthy. While premarital agreements are often used to protect individual and family wealth, such agreements can also be beneficial for parties with modest means for various reasons.
For example, our New Canaan prenuptial agreement lawyers routinely draft prenuptial agreements on behalf of clients where it is anticipated that one party may put his or her career on hold to stay home and care for children.
A prenuptial agreement can be a useful means of ensuring that the stay-at-home parent will have the security of knowing that foregoing a career outside of the home will be considered in determining potential financial rights and obligations if the marriage fails. This is usually accomplished by determining in advance a certain level and term of alimony to be paid.
This allows both parties to know going into marriage what their respective alimony rights and obligations will look like. This also prevents leaving the issue open to a potentially expensive and acrimonious dispute down the road. For many people, the certainty that a prenuptial agreement can provide is paramount.
Common Issues Addressed in Prenuptial Agreements
The Connecticut Premarital Agreements Act, the statute which governs the validity and enforceability of prenuptial agreements in Connecticut, permits couples preparing for marriage to include any or all of the following provisions in a prenuptial contract:
- Legal concerns related to personal, property, and financial rights
- Business ownership, management, and control rights
- Estate planning, including wills, trusts, and anticipated family inheritances
- Retirement, life insurance, and healthcare benefits
- Matters involving the care of older relatives
- Spousal support or alimony in the event of separation or divorce
- Agreed distribution of assets and liabilities in the event of death, separation, or marital dissolution
Validity and Enforcement of Prenuptial Agreements in Connecticut
The Connecticut Prenuptial Agreement Act also helps a court determine whether or not a Connecticut prenuptial agreement is enforceable. The validity of a prenuptial agreement can be challenged when any of the following situations occur:
- The agreement was not entered into voluntarily
- The individual challenging the agreement was not given an accurate disclosure of the other party's assets, income, or debts
- If the spouse challenging the agreement was not allowed to consult with an attorney before signing the agreement. Both spouses must be given sufficient time before their wedding to consult an attorney for legal advice
- The agreement was considered unconscionable when it was executed or is at the time of the
divorce. Unconscionable can be defined as the circumstances under which the agreement was made are deemed unfair. One side may have unequal bargaining power, one side may have difficulty understanding the terms of the agreement, or the terms themselves were unfair. Additionally, one side may have a lack of capacity or be under certain duress at the time of signing.
The Bottom Line: Prenups and postnups should always be drafted and reviewed by an experienced attorney. If there are any flaws in the process or within the legal document itself, it could cause you serious problems down the road.
What Happens if a Prenup or Postnup is Ruled Invalid in Connecticut?
When a marital agreement is deemed valid, a Connecticut court will enforce its terms. When a marital agreement is deemed invalid, it means that the court cannot enforce some (or all) of its terms. What happens when a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement is ruled invalid will depend, in large part, on the reason why it was deemed unenforceable.
For example, imagine that there is one section of the contract that violates public policy. Theoretically, a Connecticut court could invalidate that specific section and enforce the rest of the agreement. However, that is certainly not always the case. A prenup or postnup that has problems could be ruled entirely enforceable. The entire agreement may simply be thrown out.
If you are preparing for a divorce and you have a prenup or postnup that you believe is invalid or that might be challenged by your spouse, you must consult with a family law attorney who has experience litigating marital agreements. Your lawyer will protect your rights and help you find the best path forward.
How Connecticut Family Law Attorneys Can Help
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are complicated. An agreement must be properly drafted and meet certain legal standards to be fully enforceable in Connecticut. At The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann, we have the professionals skills and legal knowledge to help clients with the full range of prenup and postnup cases in Connecticut. When you reach out to our New Canaan family law office, you will have an opportunity to speak to a Connecticut family lawyer who can:
- Listen to your story, answer your questions, and explain your options under state law
- Gather documents and records and handle all of the prenup/postnup paperwork
- Represent you in settlement negotiations with your partner or spouse
- Take all appropriate steps to protect your rights and get you the best outcome
Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements should never be formulaic legal documents. To be truly effective, these agreements should always be customized to meet the unique needs of a married couple. With extensive experience and a record of testimonials from former clients, you can trust our New Canaan, CT prenuptial agreement attorneys to handle your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement case the right way.
Connect with One of Our Experienced New Canaan Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers Today
At The Family Law Firm Healy Eliot + McCann, our New Canaan prenuptial agreement lawyers have collectively negotiated and drafted hundreds of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, including agreements involving parties with very modest assets and incomes to those with hundreds of millions (and even billions) of dollars in assets. We are committed to protecting the rights and interests of our clients.
If you and your significant other are thinking of entering into a prenuptial agreement and you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact us at (203) 652-8018 or complete our online contact form. From our New Canaan law office, we serve communities throughout Fairfield County, including in Danbury, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Stamford, Fairfield, Shelton, Trumbull, Ridgefield, Bethel, Monroe, and Brookfield.