Marriage is a contract, and a prenuptial agreement is no different. A prenuptial agreement – also known as an antenuptial agreement or a premarital agreement or, colloquially, as a “prenup” – is a contract entered into between a man and a woman prior to their marriage. Prenuptial agreements are can outline the division of assets and debts, amounts of support, and even what each spouse will be entitled to in the event of death. In each of the aforementioned instances, prenuptial agreements are binding. However, when it comes to child custody and child support, the court does not look to a prenuptial agreement to determine an outcome. Therefore, prenuptial agreements should not contain child custody or child support issues.
Usually, a person asks a future spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement, because he or she has some assets that may be affected during the Pennsylvania equitable distribution process if the marriage fails. One or both spouses may wish to mitigate or fully discharge the major loss of assets, income, or business. If not for asset protection, prenuptial agreements can also be used to allocate how debt should be paid in the event of divorce. The agreement can specifically state who should pay for what debt (e.g. student loans, credit cards, tax debts, etc.) in the event of divorce. Additionally, people who are on their second or third marriage may want to ensure that various assets or family heirlooms are passed down to children or grandchildren, as opposed to children or grandchildren of the future spouse.
Postnuptial agreements, also known as postmarital agreements, are agreements entered into after two people are legally married, but before a divorce or separation has taken place. Postnuptial agreements can be drafted in anticipation of divorce, or as just a measure to protect assets if divorce does happen (which, in about 55% of marriages, divorce does happen). Postnuptial agreements can protect and do the same thing that prenuptial agreements do. Additionally, though, postnuptial agreements are sometimes used to outline how non-marital assets will be spent – such as inheritances, pre-marital property, etc.