Types of Marital Contracts

2-1024x1024Types of Marital Contracts

Whether you are planning your marriage or have made the decision to separate and divorce, you need to put the terms into a formal agreement. Marital agreements are contracts between a married couple. In North Carolina, there are four main types of marital agreements or contracts. These include prenuptial, postnuptial, separation, and settlement agreements. Each type of agreement has a specific use and is best made with help from a knowledgeable family law attorney.


Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a contract made between parties before they tie the knot. Prenuptial agreements may contain an agreement on how property and assets are to be divided if a couple divorces. It may also address issues such as spousal support and how to distribute property upon one’s death, among other items. Child support and custody matters cannot be limited by a prenup. Instead, these issues may be provided for in a separation agreement. Both parties must sign the document for it to be legal.


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Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is made after marriage. The purpose of a postnuptial agreement is basically the same as a prenup. It establishes the distribution of assets and other terms to make a potential divorce easier and more amicable. A postnuptial agreement may be made at any time during the marriage. A postnuptial agreement may replace an existing prenuptial agreement.contract-and-paperwork-on-desk-2379298-scaled


Separation Agreement

In North Carolina, couples must live apart for a period of one year before they may proceed with a divorce. However, they are not required to have a separation agreement. While a separation agreement is not necessary, it can be beneficial. A separation agreement may cover a variety of issues, such as child custody and support, spousal support, distribution of assets and debts, and other terms. A separation agreement can help parties navigate their separation and work toward an amicable divorce.


Settlement Agreement

A marital settlement agreement provides for the distribution of marital assets and debts, generally as part of a divorce. Marital assets are those assets that were accumulated during the marriage and up until the date of separation. North Carolina law requires the distribution of assets in an equal manner. A settlement may also include matters pertaining to child custody, visitation, and support. Courts prefer couples to work out the major issues before getting to trial. In some cases, a couple may benefit from mediation to assist them in coming to a fair agreement.

Marital contracts can be somewhat complex. It is essential to understand what to include in an agreement and how to review it before you sign the document. A marital contract is a legal contract as long as it was made without undue force or pressure and neither party has a lack of capacity. It is helpful to seek legal guidance to draft a marital contract and/or before you sign the document.

To learn more about marital contracts, contact us at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to request a legal consultation.






The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



prenuptial agreement | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)

Separation and Divorce | North Carolina Judicial Branch (nccourts.gov)


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