While prenuptial agreements are fairly common, many people are not aware that they may be able to create a postnuptial agreement, which can include a lot of the same information that you would find in a prenuptial agreement, but it is done after the couple has gotten married. In fact, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, from 2002 to 2007, attorneys reported a dramatic increase in the number of postnuptial agreements drafted for their clients.
In many cases, couples will have a postnuptial agreement drafted because they were unprepared to deal with such heavy issues as they were planning their wedding. Some people feel like the process is unromantic, and once they have gotten settled into their marriage, they decide it is a good time to tackle those issues.
In other cases, a couple completes a postnuptial agreement because there has been a change in their finances — such as when one spouse receives an inheritance, changes careers or decides to stay at home with the children. In these cases, couples will reevaluate their situation to reflect the changes in their financial circumstances.
The Benefits of Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
There are several benefits to creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Some of these include:
- Protecting assets: By outlining upfront how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, spouses are able to protect their separate property — including businesses, retirement benefits and investments.
- Dividing debt: Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are a great way to assign which debts each partner is responsible for paying. This can include mortgages, student loans and credit card bills.
- Last wishes: By having an agreement in place, a spouse can make his or her wishes known for what to do with assets after they have died. This is especially important if the spouse has children from a previous marriage that they would like to leave their property to.
- Reducing acrimony: Although couples may be in love and happy at the time that they draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, during the heat of a divorce, it is not uncommon for exes to get nasty with each other. By having an agreement in place while things are going well, it can make the process of divorce go more smoothly.
Get Help to Plan Ahead
To draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, contact a family law attorney. By getting the legal help that you need, you can create a plan to protect your interests if you split from your spouse. Also, a lawyer can help you in the heat of a divorce, when tensions are high and you need an advocate on your side.