The proposition that a postnuptial agreement can save your marriage may seem ludicrous.
However, Birmingham divorce attorneys know it's actually not as crazy as it sounds, primarily if you are on the verge of separation or if you have a family business or other shared asset that needs protected in the event of a breakup.
Such an agreement can be one way to resolve disputes – in writing – with specific consequences of what will happen if the other party doesn't follow through.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported recently that almost half of its members had noted an increase in postnuptial agreements over the last handful of years.
It's an issue that often arises in moments of marital crises. For example, if one party commits adultery, the other may commit themselves to making it work, but they're going to need to lay forth certain ground rules. Some of those situations involve the assurance of more alimony support, should the offending party do so again.
It also crops up if there has been some significant change in the financial circumstances of one party or the other. For example, if one spouse ran up a huge amount of debt or if another receives a promotion with a significant increase.
It can be a particularly useful tool for couples that are having trouble seeing eye-to-eye on certain financial issues, especially if marriage counseling hasn't helped the situation.
One example that was written about recently involved a couple in their 50s who had been married for half a dozen years, had two children and sparred constantly when it came to money. The two had taken out two mortgages and the husband and spent an inheritance on reducing debt that his business had acquired. She was concerned about financial stability. He saw the reduction of debt as an investment and a means of bolstering the business. It ultimately boiled down to two differing viewpoints with regard to how money should be spent.
They were at a breaking point – until they settled on signing a postnuptial agreement. It allowed them to work out a plan that specifically spelled out how they would handle certain money matters, and even what would happen in the event of their separation. Because the two wanted to stay married, they were able to work amicably through the process.
And that's really the key to these agreements. It's probably not going to work if you don't want to stay together. In that case, you will have to work within whatever confines the law allows with regard to alimony, child support, child custody, business considerations, etc.
Some couples go through the process in anticipation of a divorce years down the road, but there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence showing that if it can resolve the core issue of contention, the marriage can be salvaged – and even go on to thrive.
It's also something that we're seeing a great deal of with small business owners, particularly those who are in partnerships, and perhaps want to ensure that if their partner does divorce, half their business share isn't going to go to the spouse.
Even if both parties are working together to formulate an agreement, both sides should have their own attorney review the papers to ensure that it is equitable and that both have received fair consideration.
There are a lot of motivations, but the bottom line is that having a family law attorney experienced in this realm is essential to guide you through the process.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.