NC: Postnuptial Agreements

Unlike prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements concern the rights of parties who are already married. Postnuptial agreements permit marital property to be divided during marriage. Postnuptial agreements allow parties to contractually assign their rights and responsibilities in the event of a future separation or divorce.

Postnuptial agreements are also used by parties who have separated and now wish to reconcile. The postnuptial agreement allows the parties to predetermine their rights and responsibilities in the event that reconciliation is unsuccessful.

Parties also elect to use postnuptial agreements to revise their prenuptial agreement in the event of a change in their financial circumstances. For example, if one party wins the lottery, the parties may determine that they will not share this money as marital property. A postnuptial agreement allows parties to redefine terms pertaining to their assets and finances that were agreed upon in their premarital agreement.

Postnuptial agreements are also effective in protecting one party from a significant debt incurred by the other party. One party may decide to incur a debt to start a business or make an expensive purchase and the parties may use a postnuptial agreement to establish that only the party incurring the debt will be responsible for the debt.

Like prenuptial agreements, parties to postnuptial agreements must voluntarily enter such agreements and provide full and fair financial disclosures to one another. Postnuptial agreements will also be unenforceable where they pertain to matters of child support and child custody, waivers of alimony that leave one spouse eligible for public assistance in the event of separation, agreements to participate in unlawful conduct, incentives for divorce, and non-financial responsibilities. A postnuptial agreement also cannot be “unconscionable” or grossly unfair even if both parties agree to the terms.