North Carolina Postnuptial Agreement

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Updated August 07, 2022

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North Carolina postnuptial agreement is a contract between two spouses to determine how their assets will be distributed should the marriage end in divorce or death. Postnuptial agreements are signed by people who are already married, which makes them different from prenuptial agreements or “prenups,” signed before a marriage begins.

Because of this difference, postnuptial agreements face additional requirements to be enforced. However, both types of agreements can help couples avoid the uncertainties of potential divorce proceedings because appropriately crafted agreements precede the state’s rules for the division of assets.

Signing Requirements (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 52-10) – Agreements must be in writing, signed by both parties, and either notarized or signed in the presence of a judicial officer.

Laws

Validity: Married spouses may create contracts releasing their rights to marital property. § 52-10

Public Policy: Postnuptial agreements, in general, are not against public policy. However, when an agreement provides an economic inducement to leave the marriage, it is void as against public policy. Dawbarn v. Dawbarn (2006).

Enforceability: Like any other contract, a postnuptial agreement is not enforceable if it is unconscionable or procured by duress, coercion, or fraud. Dawbarn v. Dawbarn (2006).

Statute of Limitations: There is a three-year statute of limitations for claims that a postnuptial agreement resulted from fraud or mistake. The three-year period does not begin until the aggrieved party discovers the facts constituting the fraud or mistake. § 1-52.