Marital agreements are commonly thought of as legal tools for extremely wealthy couples to safeguard wealth and list out inheritance rights. However, marital agreements can also be useful for any couple who wants to protect their assets, determine financial stability, and divide property more efficiently. Though they aren’t necessary for every engaged or married couple, there are several circumstances that may make a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement the right choice for your marriage.
What Is a Marital Agreement?
A marital agreement includes prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. The main difference between pre-and post-nuptial agreements is that a prenuptial agreement is made between spouses prior to marriage. It comes into effect once the couple becomes married. Postnuptial agreements are made after a couple is married. Postnuptial agreements are frequently made when a couple goes through a significant financial or life change. This change may have impacted the couple’s prenuptial agreement, or it could be a new marital agreement.
A marital agreement is a contract between spouses that determines each party’s rights to marital and separate property. The agreement can also determine how property is divided if the couple divorces. If a couple divorces and can’t reach an agreement on property division, the decision will be up to the court. A marital agreement prevents this by creating a predetermined way to divide property.
Though many couples find it unromantic or uncomfortable to consider divorce before or during a marriage, a marital agreement allows couples to openly discuss finances. This can create a good foundation in a marriage. A marital agreement can also provide both parties with financial security and ensure they are provided for in a divorce. This certainty can make spouses happier in a marriage.
What Couples Can Benefit From a Marital Agreement?
There are several reasons a marriage could benefit from a marital agreement. These may include:
- One or both parties own a business or have a stake in a business.
- Couples have large inheritances, property, or other significant separate assets.
- One or both parties have significantly higher income and assets or significant premarital debt and want to determine what each party is entitled to and responsible for.
- A marriage where one party is planning to not work for a period of time to care for a home, continue education, complete career training, or care for children and wants to ensure they are financially taken care of in the event of divorce.
- Couples want to avoid litigation in a divorce.
- One or both parties has already been married and divorced and has prior spouses and children to care for or leave an inheritance to.
- Couples want to determine the sharing and split of assets in their marriage.
If you aren’t sure whether your unique situation could benefit from a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, it can be useful to talk through your circumstances with a qualified family law attorney.
Rights and Responsibilities in a Marital Agreement
A Kansas marital agreement could potentially cover several issues, such as:
- Each spouse’s rights and responsibilities to separate any marital property and assets.
- Each spouse’s rights to buy, transfer, sell, lease, use, assign, or control property in any way.
- How property should be treated in the event of separation, divorce, death of one or both spouses, or other significant events.
- If either spouse receives spousal maintenance, the amount and length of that maintenance and terms for its modification.
- Whether either spouse will create a will, trust, or other estate planning documents to carry out the terms of the marital agreement.
- Whether either spouse receives death benefits from the other spouse’s life insurance policy.
- Which state governs and interprets the marital agreement.
Q: Are Postnuptial Agreements Binding in Kansas?
A: Yes, postnuptial agreements and any other marital agreements are recognized under Kansas law. There are reasons why an individual marital agreement may be considered invalid, however: if one party can prove that they did not sign the agreement voluntarily or that they lacked valuable information about the other party or the agreement and could not have known the information. The court may also refuse to follow a marital agreement or certain aspects of a marital agreement where the guidelines are particularly unfair to one party.
Q: Is Kansas a No-Fault State for Divorce?
A: In Kansas, spouses can file for no-fault and fault-based divorces. To file for a no-fault divorce, spouses can claim irreconcilable differences. Even in a contested divorce, where one spouse does not agree with the filing, the divorce can be filed based on irreconcilable differences. A fault-based divorce can be filed for two reasons under Kansas law. One reason is the failure to perform a marital duty, including the refusal of sexual interactions. The other reason is incompatibility between spouses on the basis of mental illness or mental incapacity.
Q: What Is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in Kansas?
A: Both spouses are assumed to have the same rights to marital property at the beginning of a divorce case. Marital property means any property gained during a marriage, with some exceptions. Kansas is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court takes several factors into account and divides marital assets based on those factors in what it believes to be an equitable way. This could end up being an equal split, but it does not have to be.
The court considers factors such as the value of each spouse’s separate assets, the contributions each spouse made to the marital property and home, and if any marital misconduct by either spouse affected the value of the marital property.
Q: What Are the Disadvantages of a Postnuptial Agreement?
A: A marital agreement is not the right choice for every marriage and can be done in a way that harms one or both spouses. If a marital agreement is made without legal counsel, it may be unenforceable, making it a waste of time and resources for both spouses. Without legal counsel, the agreement may ignore essential aspects of the divorce process or favor one spouse with or without the parties’ knowledge. If the court does not negate an unfair marital agreement, the disfavored spouse could end up in significant financial trouble.
Protecting Your Rights With Legal Support
Stange Law Firm provides detail-oriented counsel for couples looking to draft or negotiate a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Contact our team today to see how we can protect your interests during the process.