Contracts are becoming more common among couples marrying or cohabitating. But the increasing popularity of these agreements could come with a false sense of simplicity or informality.
If you are thinking about having a marital contract – or if your partner wants one, but you think you do not need one – there are some critical things to understand about these legal tools, including some mistakes to avoid.
Mistake #1: Not having one
People do not like to think about the end of a relationship when they are in one. Because of this, many couples dismiss the idea of having a marital contract. However, creating one can provide critical protection should you ever need it.
Even if you think you have no reason to have a contract, consider all that you might address. Such items can include directions for dividing assets upon separation or divorce, sharing debts and protecting a family business.
Mistake #2: Having the wrong one
Couples may enter into various types of agreements. Having the right one will be crucial in accomplishing your goals.
If you plan to marry, you can have a prenuptial agreement. If you are already married, you can have a post-nuptial agreement or marriage contract. If you live together and do not plan to marry, you may have a cohabitation agreement.
Mistake #3: Including unenforceable terms
The terms you include in your marital agreements depend on your situation and vary between each couple.
However, all couples should refrain from including terms that could make the contract invalid. These clauses include illegal provisions, items that offend public policy and those that are unenforceable.
Mistake #4: Leaving out information
Contracts must be accurate, and both parties must fully disclose financial information. Withholding information or misrepresenting yourself or your property can ultimately make the contract invalid.
Mistake #5: Not signing it properly
Marital agreements are contracts and must be completed properly. They should be:
- In writing
- Signed by both parties
- Signed in front of witnesses
You and your partner must be legally capable of entering into a contract, and the signing must be voluntary. Further, both parties will want to seek independent legal support before signing anything.
Avoiding these mistakes can be crucial in ensuring you have a fair, enforceable and effective family law contract in place.