Prenuptial, Ante-Nuptial, Cohabitation, Post-Nuptial, and Marital Settlement Agreements

Setting the groundwork before the vows: prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements, also called ante-nuptial agreements, are contracts entered into by people about to marry. They are used to resolve, in advance, issues such as support and property distribution in the event of divorce and surviving spouse’s rights in the event of death. These agreements are a tool to pre-determine rights and obligations to avoid divorce litigation or conflicts over a decedent’s estate. Prenuptial agreements sometimes arise in the context of a second marriage where the engaged couple have children from a prior relationship, when one or both have ownership interests in businesses, or where one or both hold other types of investments. These agreements are used to tailor and modify the law to the desires of the marrying couple in the event of dissolution of the marriage or death.

Cohabitation agreements work in the same way as prenuptial agreements but involve parties who are not marrying. Non-married couples are sometimes treated differently under the law from married couples, so cohabitation agreements are a useful tool to ensure that the desires of the non-married couple are met in the event of a termination of the relationship or a death.

After the marriage is over: postnuptial agreements

Postnuptial agreements are entered into after a marriage. A postnuptial agreement may arise in the context of a separation, a divorce, or simply to spell out certain rights of the married couple. Marital settlement agreements are agreements negotiated by divorcing parties to resolve pending economic claims, property claims, support issues, child custody, and other similar matters. Properly drafted marital settlement agreements are valid and binding contracts that take the place of a Judge having to conduct a trial and make a decision. One of the key factors in reaching a settlement is both parties’ desire and ability to set aside past differences. Lawyers often hear “it’s a matter of principal. I won’t compromise.” Experienced family law attorneys know that an agreement negotiated between the parties will achieve the best possible outcome because it allows the parties to fine-tune matters that courts are ill-equipped to resolve.

Seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney

All of these agreements involve tax and other considerations that require skill and knowledge to properly prepare. At Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, our lawyers have the broad depth of experience and ability required to handle the negotiation and preparation of all types agreements. To find out how we can help you prepare these agreements, contact Reid B Roberts at to schedule an appointment.