Prenuptial agreements are well-known contracts executed before marriage where couples agree how to divide their property if they ever divorce and several other matters. There are also many advantages for couples to execute a postnuptial agreement after their marriage if they never entered a prenup.
A postnuptial agreement generally has the same terms as a prenuptial agreement. After marriage, however, couples may need to specifically address new assets and issues such as ownership of their primary and vacation homes, business valuation of certain assets, retirement accounts, inheritances, spousal support and maintenance, legal and expert fees, child support and estate waivers.
Postnuptial agreements are especially helpful in some circumstances. Spouses who came into the marriage with a lot of wealth that can be lost in a divorce should consider a postnup.
Postnuptial agreements may be beneficial if a spouse wants to protect a sudden large inheritance or other windfall. Even if there was a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can supplement its protections.
Spouses who planned for but never executed a prenuptial agreement should consider a postnup. In blended families, a postnuptial agreement may help assure that inheritances go directly from a spouse to their children.
A spouse who stays home to raise the couple’s children should also think about a postnuptial agreement. This helps assure that they receive support or assets in return for giving up a career or training.
If their marriage is in trouble, spouses may also consider this contract to help protect their assets or other interests. For example, a spouse may want to protect themselves from a financially reckless partner so that they are not responsible for that partner’s gambling, credit card or other debt if they ever divorce.
A postnuptial agreement can work out long-simmering marital problems. But it may also antagonize a spouse.
These agreements should be knowingly negotiated and signed without duress. An attorney can help each spouse protect their rights and seek a fair and reasonable agreement.