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Are marital agreements legally enforceable?

Much has been said about premarital agreements and the benefits of entering into one before a couple gets married. Couples can peacefully and amicably decide in advance how to divide the property and assets should the wedding not withstand the test of time. However, many North Dakota residents may find that such a practical and unromantic conversation kills the marriage fervor and skip having the discussion at the cost of losing their share in a family business or inheriting the spouse's debt. One way to avoid this is by entering into a post-marital agreement, a document that is gaining popularity across the country.

Laws surrounding post-marital agreements are new in North Dakota, coming into force in 2013. But once enacted, the law requires that both parties must enter into the document voluntarily and knowingly. The document cannot be procured as a result of duress and adequate financial disclosure must be provided otherwise the document could be deemed unenforceable.

A marital agreement, like its counterpart, premarital agreement, is a document that secures each party's rights in the event of a divorce. The main difference is that a marital agreement is signed by spouses who are married and intend to remain married, which means it becomes effective when the couple signs it. A premarital agreement on the other hand becomes effective when the couple gets married.

There are a number of legal requirements that must be met before a marital agreement is deemed to be enforceable, and it is important to ensure that couples entering into it meet each one. There are certain aspects the marital agreement cannot include, such as terms that adversely affect a child's right to child support or limit rights against domestic violence. Consulting an experienced attorney to ensure one is entering into a legally sound and mutually beneficial agreement might be a helpful step to take.

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