Postnuptial Agreements on the Rise

Postnuptial Agreements on the Rise

Postnuptial agreements appear to be more popular these days, according to a recent poll of divorce attorneys, and it may be partly because of the economy. Postnups, like prenups, keep assets and property separate between spouses and dictate who gets what if the couple splits. The difference is that a postnup, as the name implies, is created after the wedding rather than before.

Couples negotiate postnuptial agreements for a variety of reasons, and financial insecurity is one of them. So it makes sense that they would be up as the economy is down. Sometimes, a couple can’t afford to divorce but they want to separate their finances and settle all the details. These negotiations can eventually lead to divorce. In other cases, settling financial issues this way can lead to reconciliation. The issues generally are the same in a postnuptial agreement, even if the perspective is different or divorce is on the horizon. Property division is a big one. Spousal support (maintenance) is generally included, as well.

During the course of a marriage, your wishes might change. Perhaps you want your assets and property to go to your grandchildren in the event of your death, rather than to your current spouse. This is one of the issues a postnuptial agreement can address.

In other cases, a couple has a prenuptial agreement that they signed before getting married but they need to amend or change things, making it essentially a postnuptial agreement. Or couples that had intended to enter into a prenuptial agreement simply didn’t get around to it before the marriage.

The words of caution are the same. When entering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, both spouses should have an attorney. This not only makes sure that it’s fair for each, but it protects the agreement from being found invalid later on if a spouse claims they didn’t have legal advice and therefore did not understand what they were agreeing to.

Entering a legal agreement with your spouse can be an off-putting idea to some people. Think of it as a way to protect yourself and your children, and as a way to avoid some of the messy negotiations during divorce, when you may not be as willing to work together. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to do the research. 

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  • Postnuptial agreements are great for circumstances like when one spouse leaves the work force to take care of the kids -- it's an insurance policy that they won't be left high and dry. Post-nups can't cover child custody -- meaning, you can't predecide who gets the kids. This must be done at the time of the divorce and in the best interest of the kids. hI am glad to see these gaining in popularity.

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