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What Is A Marital Agreement?

It is wise for anyone who is seeking to marry or live with another person to obtain a marital or cohabitation agreement. Also known as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, these documents provide protection for each person’s assets and can help make clear the expectations of various responsibilities during the relationship. Further, if the relationship should end, a marital agreement can make divorce much easier and substantially less expensive.

Our Pennsylvania family law lawyers are able to help you create or review marital agreements in order to make sure they are right for you. Contact us to see how we can help you plan for your future.

Do I Need A Martial Agreement?

Pennsylvania recognizes the validity of prenuptial, postnuptial and cohabitation agreements under several circumstances.

Full Disclosure – No Fraud

All assets existing as the date of the agreement must be fully disclosed to the other spouse. The agreement must be certain not to contain any dishonesty or fraud.


The agreements must be entered into voluntarily, i.e., not under duress. This means that it is important that neither party be seen as putting a great deal of pressure on the other. For example, it is unwise to wait until the evening before the marriage to present an agreement to the other person. However, whether the decision to sign a marital agreement is voluntary is very fact-specific, so it is important to look at the facts of each case on its own in order to determine if a spouse was under duress when signing the document. This matters should the spouses divorce and one spouse seeks to challenge the validity of the agreement.

Awareness Of Rights

It is important that both parties be aware of their rights before they sign a marital agreement. Each spouse has certain statutory rights that come with marriage. Often some of those rights get signed away in a marital agreement. Therefore, it is best that both parties consult with an attorney to make certain that they know what they are signing away. It is always best to give both parties a reasonable period of time to review an agreement to avoid both the duress and make certain that both are aware of their rights.

Isn’t A Marital Agreement For Rich People?

Marital agreements are not just for wealthy people. Creation of a prenuptial agreement can help the people getting married be certain they understand each other’s finances; especially in these days when many people are saddled with substantial debt. They can also make clear expectations about child custody, financial support and other matters should one partner die or a divorce become necessary.

What Is A Postnuptial Agreement?

If you are already married, you might decide it is appropriate to have a postnuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements are the same as prenuptial agreements. They simply are signed after the marriage. In some states, postnuptial agreements are not allowed. Ohio is one such state. Pennsylvania, however, allows postnups.

As with premarital agreements, postmarital agreements must provide full disclosure of all assets and debts, though such disclosure can be voluntarily waived, according to a 2013 case, Lugg v. Lugg. If your spouse asks you to sign a postnuptial agreement, it is critical that you make certain you understand what rights you are giving away. Once you are married, you have valuable rights in terms of your spouse’s estate after he or she dies, as well as during a divorce. Make certain to have a qualified attorney review your postnuptial agreement before you sign it.

What Do I Do If My Fiancé Wants A Prenuptial Agreement?

Sometimes people are upset when they learn that their future spouse would like a prenuptial agreement. It is true that such agreements don’t seem very romantic, but the reality is that working through the issues that these documents address can be a great help to strengthening the relationship going forward.

Many arguments, later on, can be prevented if both people are certain they have discussed financial issues for example. If your fiancé has asked you to sign a premarital agreement, make certain that you have your own attorney review the document to make certain that it is appropriate under the circumstances and protects your legal rights as well as his or hers.

We Can Help With A Marital Agreement

When you retain our marital agreement attorneys, our office will advise you whether a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of your case. We will help you take into consideration your goals, objectives and needs, including the tax consequences of these agreements.

Contact us today 717-846-8846 to discuss your needs. We have offices in York, Shrewsbury and Mount Wolf, and we offer services across central Pennsylvania.