Various legal contracts, which I have personal experiences in dealing with, can help lay out what will happen in case of a divorce, separation, or other matters involving a marriage. There are multiple types of contracts ranging from prenuptial (prenups) to postnuptial as well as separation agreements.
The contracts can be used by people of all income as well as asset levels. As I previously reported on my personal marital situation which was written about on this blog as well as picked up by Tiny Buddha here. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/he-left-but-i-will-not-give-up-on-myself/
I have experience in working with attorney(s) on the process. There are some pros and cons to the types of nuptial agreements.
Types of marriage contracts
There are a few. A prenuptial is done before the marriage occurs. The couple will negotiate this contract. It will address what will happen if the marriage were to end, however some prenups go even further and indicate what will be done throughout the course of the marriage, even as simple as how often a couple goes out to dinner or where they live! But most prenuptials address only the division of assets, future alimony or child support, who addresses any debts incurred during the marriage, and parental obligations.
Postnuptials are created while a couple is still married. While generally they are for couple who acquire significant assets during the marriage, they too can address anything the parties want ranging from child custody to who gets the pet(s). But most post nups cover alimony, division of stocks and bonds, and similar financial matters.
Separation agreements are negotiated before or during the process when a couple separates. They tend to be short term and cover who pays the bills during a separation, whether marriage counseling is required, who cares for kids, where marriage assets as well as liabilities are held during the separation and more. They end to be short term in nature as if it proceeds to the divorce court process, the final terms and conditions will be set then.
Some people may think the various types of contacts are only for the “rich”. Or how can they afford to do this? While there is much higher usage of them by higher income income group, others can use them too. There are ways to cut back on the cost, as well as some possible assistance programs for nuptial agreements.
- In limited cases an attorney may do this on a pro-bono basis for free, but there usually needs to be some type of unusual need.
There are also attorneys that use sliding fee scales, and they will charge the client an amount based on their income.
- Another way to cut back on the expense in creating a nuptial agreement is to use a mediator and not an attorney, as a third party may sit between the two parties and try to negotiate a deal that both parties can be content with.
- A third option is the DIY model, as there are websites that have legal forms that can be completed by the parties. Though that may b harder to stand up in court unless a mediator and/or attorney was involved to ensure “fairness” for both parties.
Now these contracts are not just for the rich as they do not just need to cover just financial needs or the division of assets/liabilities. As noted, a pre-or post-nuptial may state what the parental responsibilities are for their kids, and that can apply to all income groups. Or it can state who is responsible for any debt incurred during the marriage, cross over to what happens if a person is sick or even dies (lose to what a will does), and anything.
This means a low-income family that is separating, or divorcing/getting married, can still benefit from these legal contacts. As you see from above, there are different types to use, depending on your circumstances. They can use a less expensive way to complete the forms and use it for child or debt issues. So even if you have a limited income a pre or post nuptial can be something to consider.