Post-Nuptial Agreements

postnuptial agreementsIn Pennsylvania, post-nuptial agreements are considered contracts between two married individuals and, as such, are evaluated under the same criteria applicable to other types of contracts.  These contracts may include just about anything and are recognized as valid in Pennsylvania so long as certain conditions are satisfied.  When compared to other states, Pennsylvania does not have terribly exacting requirements.  Specifically, the two major requirements are the full disclosure of assets and the absence of fraud, misrepresentation or duress.

Even if the agreement is entirely one-sided, it will still be enforced.  Pennsylvania does not look to fairness as an element in determining the enforceability of a post-nuptial agreement.  The agreement will also be enforced regardless of whether the parties read and fully understood the terms.  With respect to disclosure, courts will enforce a post-nuptial agreement that was entered into without full and fair disclosure if the requirement was knowingly waived by the party who did not receive the disclosure.  This waiver must be in writing.

Parties have great latitude in structuring individual agreements and are free to enter into binding contracts with respect to property and support issues.  The validity and interpretation of these agreements is determined with reference to general contract principles.

For instance, if an agreement is ambiguous and is capable of more than one interpretation, the more rational interpretation is preferred.  An ambiguous provision will be construed against the drafter of the agreement.  A contract is unambiguous if reasonable individuals could not differ as to its interpretation.  A note to remember is that parents may not bargain away the rights of their children, and agreements relating to custody or support of children are always subject to modification upon a showing of changed circumstances.

By Marshall Schreibsteinshreibstein-marshall

 

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