Montgomery County Postnuptial Agreement Attorney
Pennsylvania law strongly favors interspousal agreements, whether they are made before or after the couple exchanged vows. Some postnuptial agreements are modifications of prenuptial agreements. When circumstances change, your prenup should change with them. Other postnuptial agreements are original agreements. Many couples do not fully see the need for a property agreement until after the marriage. Still other postnuptial contracts are part of a separation agreement.
The compassionate Montgomery County postnuptial agreement attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand understand the need for an equitable postnuptial agreement which preserves your legal and financial rights while it respects the rights of the other spouse. Unless spousal agreements walk this tightrope, they will not pass judicial review and will not be worth entering into.
Postnuptial Agreement Nuts and Bolts
Like most contracts, postnuptial agreements are relatively easy to make and relatively difficult to break, as long as certain rules are observed.
Most people make postnuptial agreements for financial reasons. Frequently, couples quickly see that petty squabbles over money could soon destroy their relationship. So, they execute postnuptial agreements and remove money from the equation. Some financial provisions include property management responsibilities, property classification (marital v. nonmarital), and spousal support caps.
Postnups also accomplish some nonfinancial purposes. For example, they remove much of the uncertainty from inheritance and succession matters.
To break an unfair postnuptial agreement, the challenging spouse must present clear and convincing evidence of one of the following:
- Unconscionable: Almost all postnuptial agreements are uneven by design. Some of these uneven agreements cross the line and are legally unconscionable. Agreements are only invalid if they were unconscionable when they were made. Stocks are often an issue. 100 shares of Amazon were practically worthless in 2000. Today, that’s not the case.
- Involuntary: If one spouse withheld critical information, the other spouse did not know what s/he was signing, so the agreement is involuntary. The same thing is true if one spouse applied excessive pressure to sign. That pressure must be greater than a “sign or else” ultimatum.
Most postnuptial pacts have severability clauses. If a judge declares one part invalid, the rest is still in force.
Case Study: The McCourt Divorce
Some baseball fans might remember Jamie and Frank McCourt, the California power couple who owned the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 2000s.
At that time, the Dodgers were struggling financially, to say the least. In 2011, the team’s fortunes hit a low point, and the club declared bankruptcy.
At about the same time the team was in bankruptcy court, its owners were in divorce court. Since the team was practically worthless, Jamie gave up her half of the team in exchange for about $100 million in cash and property. A few years later, Frank, who was the sole owner, sold the reinvigorated Dodgers for over $2 billion.
Jamie took her ex-husband to court, alleging that the property agreement was unconscionable and involuntary. It left her $900 million short of a 50-50 split in a community property state, and Jame argued that Frank withheld information during negotiations.
The court ruled against Jamie. The agreement was not unconscionable when it was made. Furthermore, as a former co-owner of the team, Jamie had access to as much financial information as she wanted. Therefore, according to the court, the agreement was not involuntary either.
The story has something of a happy ending for Jamie. A few years later, President Donald Trump made her ambassador to France. That’s a pretty nice consolation prize.
Count on a Dedicated Attorney
Postnups make certain marriages stronger and potential divorces easier. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. Convenient payment plans are available.