Pre- & Post-Nuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are entered into prior to marriage. Many people believe that prenuptial agreements are only for situations where one party has significantly more property or earning power than the other. Others may find the concept offensive, believing that sharing your life with someone means sharing your wealth and possessions as well.

Each individual has different reasons and objectives for entering into a prenuptial agreement. Some of the most common reasons for these types of agreements are to protect and provide for children from previous marriages, to protect a family business, to protect separate assets acquired before or during the marriage, or to waive or provide for support and other economic rights that accrue as a result of the marriage.

Postnuptial agreements are entered into to settle issues, both economic and otherwise, that arise during the divorce process. Although postnuptial agreements vary, they generally include information about the parties' assets and how they will be allocated following the divorce. Postnuptial agreements can also outline how much and for how long alimony will be paid. At Cognetti & Associates, our attorneys will work with you to draft a pre- or postnuptial agreement that is acceptable to both you and your spouse.

Another type of agreement that has become more prominent in recent years is known as a cohabitation agreement. Cohabitation agreements are entered into by couples who either choose not to get married or are prohibited from getting married. Generally, these agreements will dictate how a couple will set up their finances once they begin living together. Cohabitation agreements can include a variety of provisions including how the parties will acquire or pay for assets, and how the parties will separate assets and debts in the event of a break-up. Cohabitation agreements can also include custody provisions should the parties have any natural or adopted children.

Am I bound by the prenuptial, post-nuptial, or cohabitation agreement?

The short answer to this question is "yes." These types of agreements are governed by both statutory law and case law. Prenuptial, postnuptial and cohabitation agreements are all considered contracts and are thus governed by contract law. Pre- and postnuptial agreements are presumed valid and binding, and the party seeking to invalidate the agreement has the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence — one of the toughest burdens to meet. In order to ensure that your agreement has the greatest chance of being deemed valid, you should have it drafted by an attorney who is experienced in family law and its intricacies. The attorneys at Cognetti & Associates have vast experience not only in the drafting of these agreements, but also in litigating both for and against their validity.