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Pre- and postnuptial agreements as protection from debt

North Carolina residents who are concerned about their current or future spouse’s debt might want to consider creating a pre- or postnuptial agreement to protect them from those obligation. A pre- or postnup can specify that the debt a spouse incurs after the marriage belongs solely to that spouse. It can even include provisions that allow the other spouse to periodically takes steps such as examining the debtor spouse’s credit report. This may be helpful if one spouse has an issue such as a gambling addiction.

Pre- and postnuptial agreements are not immune to legal challenges, but there are steps that can be taken that make a successful challenge less likely. Postnuptial agreements may face particular scrutiny with the reasoning that a person who is already married may have been more susceptible to coercion. For these agreements, both parties should have their own attorney, and there should be no suggestion that one was pressured into signing it. Both should fully understand the ramifications of the agreement. Both types of agreements can also specify how assets will be divided if there is a divorce.

People should be aware that creditors may still pursue them for an ex-spouse’s debts. However, a pre- or postnuptial agreement can help a person get reimbursed by that spouse.

If there is no pre- or postnuptial agreement, a couple will have to decide how they will divide assets and debts, or a judge will make the decision. The couple may want to try to negotiate the division of property with the assistance of their respective family law attorneys because they might be happier with the outcome.