Do It Yourself Post Nuptial Agreement
As long as both parties are in agreement to the terms of the post nuptial contract, and have the ability to put those terms into a legal document, most states don’t make it a legal requirement to have an attorney. When most people hear the term “contract” they automatically think of documents full of legal jargon – but this doesn’t have to be the case.
For a simple, do-it-yourself post nuptial agreement, all that is required is that the terms of the contract be spelled out clearly, in simple language that is understandable without any room for confusion or misinterpretation.
If you and your spouse are going to put together your own post nuptial agreement, it is important that all financial information be included, with details about who will get what, as well as who will be responsible for specific liabilities and bills. In some cases a couple can put together a post nuptial agreement all by themselves that is a perfectly good legal document, ready to be signed and notarized. Others use it as a first draft to take to a lawyer (or separate lawyers for each) to be reviewed and improved upon, as needed.
Common Mistakes in Post Nuptial Agreements
Once you have determined that having a post nuptial agreement is a good thing for you and your spouse and you are going to do it yourself, there are a few common mistakes that you will want to avoid.
- Basing the contract completely on the “here and now” and not thinking of future possibilities. For example, let’s say at the time of the agreement both parties are earning incomes and you draw up a contract that states that in the event of divorce, both agree to keep their separate income, waiving the right to alimony or spousal support. What happens if a few years down the line, one party becomes a stay-at-home parent, or becomes injured and unable to work? There need to be provisions for this included in your agreement.
- Not clearly stating all assets and liabilities (which is totally different from fraud or failure to disclose). Anything you own or owe needs to be included in the document. If you forget to put something in, the laws of your state will apply to that asset or liability – or worse yet, the Court could use this as a basis to declare the entire document unenforceable.
- Never waive your rights to something is subject to change, or which can legally be modified at a later date. The best example here is child support. Child support orders are based upon factors such as the income of each spouse and the needs of the child, which may unexpectedly change. If you have an ironclad legal document that states a specific amount, you will have a hard time getting it modified at a later date.
- Not making specific arrangements for debts and liabilities, including making any necessary name changes and adjustments to account holder information. Even if you and your spouse make an agreement that one or the other will be responsible for a specific bill, if the account is in both of your names, that doesn’t mean that the lender or creditor has to follow it. For example, let’s say you own a home in both names and one spouse agrees to make the mortgage payment in the event of a divorce. If that person fails to follow through, the bank can still come after you – not only ruining your credit, but you could potentially lose the house.