Postnuptial Agreements Fill Prenup Need for Married Couples
Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups,” have become increasingly popular over the years. A large portion of marriages end in divorce, and too many divorces result in lengthy court battles over alimony and the division of assets. Properly executed, prenuptial agreements prevent those legal battles by predetermining such financial matters under mutually-agreed-upon terms. Some people do not like prenups because they feel they indicate a lack of trust in one’s spouse or a lack of faith that the marriage will work out.
If a prenup is controversial, then a postnuptial agreement, or “postnup,” could be even more so. But it does not have to carry a negative connotation any more than a prenup. A postnup serves the same purpose as a prenup, but it is an agreement entered into by a couple that are already married. It can contain all the same arrangements, and like prenups, postnups are gaining in popularity.
There are many reasons why you and your spouse might want a postnup. Perhaps you considered a prenup, but did not get around to it before the wedding. Or maybe the thought of a prenup did not occur to you, or you thought you disliked the idea but had a change of heart. Also, a postnup may be advisable if one or both parties inherit or expect to inherit significant assets. Inheritances are usually considered separate property anyway, but a prenup or postnup can make that crystal clear.
A postnuptial can also bring a measure of peace to a marriage full of conflict. A recent CNN report told the story of a Boston couple who had ongoing disagreements about money. He took on large amounts of debt to grow his consulting business, which kept her up nights worrying what would happen if the business failed. They agreed to put the house in her name and split the mortgage and other expenses, quelling her fears and bringing peace to their relationship.
Postnups may become even more common soon in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that struck down part of DOMA. That ruling invalidates the portion of the law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. When those couples suddenly find themselves in new and different financial circumstances, they may want to make new legal agreements to account for those changes.
No one plans to divorce, and no one wants to spend time, money, and energy in a drawn-out court battle. But those are exactly the situations in which many couples find themselves today. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement prevents a great deal of conflict and can even strengthen a marriage.