Postnuptial Agreements vs. Deed of Separation – Which One Do You Need?

Postnuptial Agreements vs. Deed of Separation
Nov 4, 2022

In this article, we are going to touch upon two important types of agreements that you and your spouse can enter into:  Postnuptial Agreements and a Deed of Separation.  What is the difference between the two agreements and which one should you opt for, if at all.  Let’s take a look!

Postnuptial Agreements:  A Postnuptial Agreement is a marital contract and entered into after the marriage.  In comparison, a Prenuptial Agreement is a marital contract entered into prior to the date of marriage.  Similar to a Prenuptial Agreement, a Postnuptial Agreement can be entered into between a husband and wife (because it is after the marriage) in order to set out terms for resolution of key issues in a divorce such as finances and children.  For many couples, a Postnuptial Agreement is a key document to set out terms in anticipation of divorce, thus making the divorce process a lot smoother so that there is no ambiguity over what could be high conflict issues.  Sometimes, couples enter into Postnuptial Agreements because they are considering a divorce but then they decide to reconcile.  Then as a safeguard, they have in place a Postnuptial Agreement in place in the event the reconciliation does not work.  In Hong Kong, Postnuptial Agreements are recognized and considered when dealing with divorce settlements by the Hong Kong Courts.

Deed of Separation:  A Deed of Separation on the other hand, is a separate agreement made between a husband and wife after a decision has been made to legally separate.  Many times, couples enter into a Deed of Separation to outline the terms of their divorce on key issues such as finances and children.  The Deed of Separation is then attached to the Divorce Petition to demonstrate to the Hong Kong Court that an agreement has been reached between the parties and thus, the divorce should therefore move forward without delay.  This extra step in entering into a Deed of Separation may be worthwhile for couples because an agreement can be reached early on in the separation process.  It essentially releases the heat which may arise in a divorce process when disagreements take place between separating couples.

Is A Deed of Separation Similar to a Judicial Separation?:  A Deed of Separation is simply a contract/agreement entered into between you and your spouse outlining the terms agreed to with respect to a separation/divorce.  A Judicial Separation however, is an actual application made to the Hong Kong Court whereby you and your partner are stating that you want to be legally separated but for some reason not legally divorced.  Many times, individuals choose a Judicial Separation for personal reasons such a religion.  Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that if you apply and obtain a Judicial Separation, you are legally separated but it does not mean you are divorced.  Later, if you decide you wish to become legally divorced from your spouse, you will need to commence separate divorce proceedings.  This is something to consider from a cost basis because you will need to spend money both on a Judicial Separation proceeding AND a divorce proceeding if you later wish to become legally divorced.  Another key consideration when applying for a Judicial Separation is that if you obtain a Judicial Separation and are not legally divorced and only legally separated, you are not free to marry under the law.  If you obtain a Decree Absolute in your divorce proceeding however, you are free to remarry upon the pronouncement of a Decree Absolute.

How Do You Choose Between These Options?:  Before you move forward with a Postnuptial Agreement, Deed of Separation and/or a Judicial Separation or Divorce, it is important that you speak directly with a solicitor and explain your special circumstances.  Depending on your circumstances, one agreement may be a better option than another.  Your solicitor will then be able to guide you in the right direction as to what agreement/contract you should have in place and whether a separation or divorce is the better option for you when applying to the Court.  Your solicitor will help ensure you take the right steps for yourself and your family.

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