A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenuptial agreement. The major distinction between the two is that a postnuptial agreement is entered into after a couple is married or has entered into a civil union. Postnuptial agreements are legal written agreements between both spouses that explain how financial assets and property will be divided if the marriage ends in divorce or separation.
Reasons for Having Postnuptial Agreements
There are a number of reasons why a couple might want to create and sign a postnuptial agreement. Such agreements are sometimes recommended by marriage counselors in troubled marriages to help relieve tension regarding money. A postnuptial agreement sets out how funds would be divided at the time of divorce, and having this set agreement can help couples move past financial worries.
Postnuptial agreements can also include stipulations regarding behavior in a relationship that could ease the minds of struggling couples. For example, postnups can include financial penalties if one spouse is unfaithful or overspends. However, stipulations regarding lifestyle choices, such as where vacations should be spent, cannot be included in a postnup.
Another reason to have a postnuptial agreement is if the financial situation of one or both spouses changes significantly during the marriage. If one spouse receives an inheritance, sells a business, benefits from a good investment, or otherwise experiences a significant increase or decrease in assets, a postnuptial agreement allows both spouses to lay out how to fairly divide those assets. Doing this can relieve tension in a marriage. Postnups can also be used by a couple that is headed toward divorce to agreeably settle matters of finance before the divorce proceedings begin. This makes the divorce process much faster and easier on each spouse.
For a postnup to be valid, it must follow the laws of the state in which it was created. It is in the best interest of both spouses to have a lawyer compose a postnuptial agreement to ensure that all financial matters are covered appropriately and legally. A postnuptial agreement can be thrown out by a judge if one spouse hides assets from the other, if the agreement does not treat each spouse fairly, or if either spouse was pressured into signing the agreement. For this reason, having a family lawyer work on your postnuptial agreement is a wise decision.