Couples get married for many different reasons and with many different assumptions. That's why marital agreements have been around for centuries. Some people believe that a written contract eases the "what if" potential legal concerns of the husband and wife so they can focus on building their marital relationship.
No one enters a marriage intending to get out of it. However, under Alabama law, marital agreements must meet strict rules and requirements to protect assets and finances in the case of the unlikely termination of marriage, whether by death, divorce, annulment of marriage, or legal separation.
Equitable Does Not Mean Equal
In Alabama, marital agreements are quite useful because Alabama is an equitable distribution state. In the eyes of the court, a divorcing couple's assets should be fairly divided - which is not the same as equally. And the court controls the distribution of a divorcing couple's property and financial assets. A divorce can become quite contentious and expensive when one party had property and financial assets worth more than the other, so a marital agreement can mitigate divorce issues.
In The Event of Divorce or Death
A marital agreement spells out how the property and assets are to be owned and distributed in the event of a divorce or death of a spouse. It includes property and assets that one party had before the marriage and that either party earns during the marriage. Property and assets may include bank accounts, real estate, gifts, inheritances, and other valuables such as jewelry and art.
Such agreements require full and honest disclosure. If assets are hidden from the other party, a marital agreement may not stand up to scrutiny by a court. Each party in a marriage should seek independent counsel so the marital agreement is valid and legally sound.
"Til Death Do Us Part"
Marital agreements are also used when marriage partners wish to enter into contracts in the case of the death of either party to specify what the other party will receive upon the death of the other. It is best to think in context of a full estate plan which may include wills and/or trusts though.
Postnuptial Agreements For After "I Do"
If a couple has already married, a postnuptial agreement is an option. Alabama law has a stringent set of requirements used to enforce postnuptial agreements, so be sure to get qualified legal advice.
How We Can Help
Jim Holliman, family law attorney, knows how to create marital agreements that protect a client’s quality of life, and he has extensive experience:
- Creating prenuptial and postnuptial marital agreements
- Reviewing marital agreements developed by other attorneys
- Litigating both a request to enforce a marital agreement
- Litigating a request to set a marital agreement aside.
Call us today at 205-663-0281 and let Jim Holliman will help you so you can take care of your loved ones and your assets with the right marital agreement for your situation. And Bradford & Holliman can align your estate plans according to your marital plan, too.
Jim Holliman, Family Law Attorney