Many couples choose to get married without thinking about the possible implications of a divorce. They may feel their love is strong enough to withstand any obstacle, but unfortunately, even the most loving couples can find themselves in unexpected disagreements that challenge their relationship. Sometimes, these couples who have been married for years even find themselves reconsidering their relationship that leads them to part ways. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to know that you have legal options that can reduce potential financial and emotional burdens that can cripple you and your family. One of these options is to create a formal postnuptial agreement.
What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is the name of the contract created by a married couple that outlines how both individual’s assets will be formally divided in the event of a divorce. This agreement is similar to the common prenuptial agreement, but is created after the couple is already married. It’s for couples who did not have a prenuptial agreement in place before getting married, but who have since decided that they would like to add this level of protection to their marriage.
Why Would I Need a Postnuptial Agreement?
There are many compelling reasons you might need a postnuptial agreement. Some of the most common are:
- You want to protect your assets: If you have had a significant increase in assets, such as a home, a business, or investments, you may want to legally protect these in the event of a divorce. Postnuptial agreements can help ensure that your assets are divided fairly in the event of a divorce. In addition, many people may have begun the relationship without the level of assets they have now, so a postnuptial pact can help to address this change and make them feel more secure.
- You want to protect your children: If you have children from a previous relationship, you may want to ensure that they are provided for in the event of your death or divorce. You can have a postnuptial agreement dictate how your assets will be divided between your children and your spouse, ensuring that your children are taken care of.
- You want to protect yourself financially: If you are the breadwinner, you may want to protect yourself financially in the event of a divorce. A postnuptial agreement would help ensure that you are not left with a large financial burden if your marriage ends or that you are not taken advantage of financially if your spouse tries to get a divorce.
- You want clearly established boundaries: If you are worried about your spouse’s spending habits or have financial secrets you want to keep hidden, a postnuptial pact can help establish clear boundaries and establish what is fair game in the event of a divorce.
- You want peace of mind: If you are considering a divorce, postnuptial agreements help provide some peace of mind. It can allow you to move forward with your divorce knowing that your assets are protected.
How Does a Postnuptial Agreement Work?
A postnuptial agreement is a legally binding and enforceable contract that must be created by an attorney. You and your spouse will each have your own attorney to ensure that the agreement is fair and that your rights are protected. Once the agreement is created, you and your spouse will both sign it.
It’s important to note that a postnuptial agreement is not set in stone. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to modify the agreement, you can do so by creating a new agreement or by adding an amendment to the existing agreement.
Q: Do I Need a Postnuptial Agreement if I Have a Prenuptial Agreement?
A: No, there is no requirement to have both types of agreements. Couples typically choose one or the other, depending on their needs and circumstances. If you do have an official prenuptial agreement in place and you want to modify it, there are a few ways to do so. You can create a new agreement that supersedes the old one, or you can add an amendment to the existing agreement.
Q: How Long Does a Postnuptial Agreement Last?
A: A postnuptial agreement is typically valid for as long as the marriage lasts. There is no expiration date, and the agreement will remain in effect until it is modified or dissolved. If you find there are previous agreements still in place that you no longer want to be bound by, you can revisit the agreement and make changes as needed.
Q: What if My Spouse Doesn’t Want to Sign a Postnuptial Agreement?
A: If your spouse is unwilling to sign a postnuptial agreement, then you may have to consider other options, such as advancing to a divorce and working out the terms of the divorce settlement. Rather than having a postnuptial agreement in place that provides a road map of how assets will be divided, you will have to defend and negotiate for your fair share in court. This can be a lengthy and costly process, but it might be the only option when dealing with a resistant spouse. Again, keep in mind how the long-term financial stability of you and your family might outweigh the initial cost and time investment of a divorce.
Q: What Items Are Commonly Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?
A: Postnuptial agreements can include many provisions, but the most common are related to financial matters. This can include everything from how assets will be divided to what happens to debts and property acquired during the marriage. Other common provisions can address issues such as spousal support, child custody, and visitation. The agreement can be customized to address the specific needs and concerns of the couple and are not limited to financial matters.
If you are considering a postnuptial agreement, it is important to consult with an experienced St. Louis family law attorney to ensure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Then, with the help of a qualified attorney, you can create an agreement tailored to your specific needs and relationship.