There are three basic types of marital contracts in North Carolina – Pre-nuptial agreements, Post-nuptial agreements, and Separation Agreements. Most people know what a Separation Agreement or Pre-nuptial agreement is, which is not to say that there are not misconceptions regarding each, but they each are familiar within the context of popular culture.
Post-nuptial agreements, however, are not as common. In North Carolina for many years, Husbands and wives have been able to contract with each other during the marriage regarding matters that are not inconsistent with public policy. Traditionally, contracts which waived or released a dependant spouse’s right to Alimony were considered against public policy. Hence, post-nuptial agreements were limited in this respect and often considered inferior to separations agreements which could address every issue. For this reason, even when the parties intended to attempt reconciliation, post-nuptials were not seen as a way to address all the couple’s issues.
There has been a recent change to that tradition. Amendments to N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 52-10; and 50-16.6(b), make it a little easier to settle all issues between a married couple during a brief period of separation – a trial separation in common vernacular. Couples who have separated but intend to work on their marriage and attempt reconciliation can now address all their marital legal issues if they so desire. This can have the effect of calming the emotions between them and create an environment in which the parties can focus on each other and their marriage instead of arguing over contentious issues. Couples still cannot violate public policy but no longer will a waiver, release, or establishment of post separation support, alimony, or spousal support be considered invalid and inconsistent with public policy and reconciliation will no longer destroy a valid waiver, release, or establishment of support in a post-nuptial agreement.
If you and your spouse have decided to separate while still working on your marriage, Rice Law, PLLC, can help you understand, negotiate or draft your post-nuptial agreement to protect your interests. Give us a call.