AlertWinter 2017

Never "Got Around" to Signing Your Pre-Nup? It May Not Be Too Late!

Many couples consider (or should consider) signing a prenuptial agreement before they are married, but avoid raising the issue or resist the idea.  They may fear a negative reaction by their intended, or the couple is “so in love” they cannot contemplate the possibility that their marriage may not last forever.  They may not appreciate that a prenuptial agreement does not predict divorce, and can protect both spouses in the event of a divorce or death.  If a prenuptial agreement was not under discussion, or the negotiations were not completed, or the documents were not signed before the wedding, a postnuptial agreement may be an option for you. 

Postnuptial agreements that meet judicially defined standards are recognized as valid and legally enforceable in Connecticuti.  The Connecticut Supreme Court has held that in order to be enforceable, a postnuptial agreement must comply with applicable contract principles, the terms of the agreement must be both fair and equitable at the time of execution and not unconscionable at the time the marriage is dissolved.  In addition, unlike prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements must have consideration.  In other words, each party must give or give up something as part of the bargain.

When the honeymoon is over, or even long thereafter, there are many reasons to consider entering a “postnuptial” agreement:

  • You deferred or delayed signing a prenuptial agreement.
  • You and your spouse were a two-career couple, and have now decided to start a family.  You have mutually agreed that one of you will defer pursuing your career and become a stay-at-home parent; the other will be the family “breadwinner.”
  • You (or your spouse) wish to invest or participate in a new business venture.  You both think it would be prudent to allocate the risks/benefits of the project and determine in advance how your assets will be divided between you and your spouse if the venture fails, or succeeds.
  • Your (or your spouse’s) financial circumstances have changed dramatically since the marriage (e.g., one of you has sustained substantial business losses, or one of you has been the beneficiary of a significant inheritance).
  • You have retired and want your (still-working) spouse to retire, as well.  The non-retired spouse wants to replicate the financial security s/he would have enjoyed in consideration for foregoing future earnings and benefits. 

There are many other reasons particular to individual couples who have a current or prospective financial concern and would like the security of a contractual arrangement to address it.  If you would like more information about whether a postnuptial agreement may be right for you, contact a member of Pullman & Comley’s Family Law or Trusts and Estates practice groups to explore your options.

iBedrick v. Bedrick, 200 Conn. 691 (2011).  Pullman & Comley’s Campbell D. Barrett and Jon Kukucka represented the appellant in the Connecticut Supreme Court appeal.  © 2016 Pullman & Comley, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

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