Most people have heard of prenuptial agreements, colloquially known as “prenups.” This is an agreement arranged before a marriage that typically waives spouses’ rights to sue for equitable distribution of property upon getting a divorce.
A postnuptial agreement also waives the right to receive an equitable distribution of property upon divorce. However, unlike a prenuptial agreement, this is made after a couple becomes legally married.
Why would anyone want a postnuptial agreement?
One common reason for a postnuptial agreement is to avoid lengthy and costly legal proceedings if a couple is planning on getting divorced. It’s often the mechanism behind so-called “amicable divorces.”
However, postnuptial agreements aren’t just for couples looking to divorce. These are commonly used in blended families to ensure that children receive inheritances from their blood relatives. It’s also a potential way for couples to stay together if one spouse is fiscally irresponsible, since it essentially clarifies which assets belong to whom.
Other couples may reach a postnuptial agreement when they have a child. If one spouse agrees to stop working to raise the child, the couple may want to ensure that a certain level of fiscal resources will be available to the homemaking spouse. A postnuptial agreement is sometimes simply used to clarify asset ownership in marriages for personal reasons.
Making sure your postnuptial agreement is valid
Ideally, you should work with an attorney to craft your agreement. It must be in writing; verbal contracts of this nature are usually not enforceable. The agreement also cannot be grossly unfair to one spouse, and it cannot have been signed under duress.
Even though postnuptial agreements are often met with skepticism, some couples see these as a way to ensure a long and healthy marriage.