A Post Nuptial Agreement ("PNA") is an agreement between two spouses that spells out how their property and debts are to be divided in a divorce action. Additionally, this agreement may also include terms for spousal support, alimony and even child custody and is typical in situations where spouses separate and either contemplate or file for divorce - it is not to be confused with a Pre-Nuptial Agreement (an agreement signed PRIOR to the parties getting married).
Each spouse will typically have his or her attorney negotiate the terms of this agreement - but it is NOT legally required in Pennsylvania that an attorney be involved; however, due to the complexities involved in negotiating these types of agreements (tax implications, etc) it is recommended you hire an attorney experienced in handling divorces and post nuptial agreements.
A PNA is typically not filed at the courthouse so the terms of the agreement are not for public inspection. Instead, they are to be viewed as private contracts between two spouses in which either party can enforce and sue in the event the other party violates the terms. If you own real estate, the PNA will set forth whether the house is to be sold or refinanced as well as how the parties intend to divide any equity built up during the marriage. In addition, retirement accounts (401k's, IRA's, pensions), personal property, inheritance rights, insurances, vehicles, debts, loans, furniture, jewelry, and other assets acquired during the marriage are included in the PNA.
Often times, where the parties have minor children, a PNA may also set out what the custody arrangement and financial obligation will be moving forward; however, it should be noted that custody and child support, are always modifiable; thus, just because it's included in the PNA does not mean that is the end of the story; instead either spouse/parent may decide, later down the road, to request a change in custody and/or support. Nevertheless, in more amicable divorces, an agreement on custody and support provides some additional post-divorce clarity for both parties - as well as the children.
We have been negotiating Post Nuptial Agreements for well over ten years in both amicable and contentious divorces. Contact our office to discuss how we can help you prepare you and your family for the future; our office is conveniently located in downtown Lancaster City across from the historic Courthouse. Call today at 717.435.8830.