Many couples decide to get a prenuptial agreement before getting married in order to protect assets in the event of a divorce. While this may not seem like the most romantic idea, it makes good financial sense. It can save time, heartache, and stress should the marriage not last.
What if you are already married? Can you still protect your assets? You can, but since you are already married, you would instead use a document called a postnuptial agreement. In order to be valid, a postnuptial agreement must be written, entered into voluntarily, and contain full disclosure about the assets, liabilities, and incomes of both parties.
Postnuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements in that they are drafted the same way and often contain the same type of information. They often discuss how property and assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. They also discuss payment of debts and whether or not the spouses agree to alimony. Postnuptial agreements can also determine what will happen to one party’s assets upon death.
Despite this, a postnuptial agreement does not necessarily mean that the couple is considering divorce. In fact, such an agreement can actually make a marriage stronger and eliminate the need for divorce. A postnuptial agreement can be entered into any time after the couple is married. It could be a year later, or five, 10, or even 20 years down the road. If the couple is having marital issues, coming up with agreements and solutions in writing can protect the marriage. If it does not and the couple ends up divorcing anyway, the postnuptial agreement should, at the very least, make the divorce much more amicable.
Should you and your spouse consider a postnuptial agreement? Will such a document actually be a hindrance to your marriage? Here are some things to consider before signing one.
Reasons for Getting a Postnuptial Agreement
A postnuptial agreement can help define the couple’s wishes for their property. For example, if one party brought a vehicle, property, heirloom, collection, furniture, or anything else of value into the marriage, a postnuptial agreement can define its place in the marriage and whether or not the spouse would be entitled to it in a divorce.
A postnuptial agreement is also helpful when the parties have children from previous relationships. This document can outline what will happen when the parent dies and determine which assets the children will receive.
This agreement can also protect one spouse when the other is irresponsible. For example, if one spouse is bad with money, has a gambling problem, suffers from a drug or alcohol addiction or has been in trouble with the law, a postnuptial agreement can outline the next steps the innocent party will take.
A couple may also get a postnuptial agreement to plan for the unexpected in terms of finances. For example, what will happen when one party receives a large inheritance and lands a job with a huge salary increase? How will the couple handle winning the lottery? What will happen when one spouse is a stay-at-home parent and the couple files for divorce? A postnuptial agreement can ensure that the person receives the financial resources necessary to move on after the split.
Why You Should Not Get a Postnuptial Agreement
While there are many advantages to getting a postnuptial agreement, sometimes such an agreement only makes things worse. This is true in cases in which one spouse makes much more money than the other. This can be concerning to the lower-income spouse, as he or she may not be provided for in the event of a divorce. This does not mean that a postnuptial agreement will not work, only that it needs to be carefully thought out.
A couple should not rely on a postnuptial agreement to deal with infidelity issues. After a spouse has been accused of cheating, communication often breaks down and the innocent spouse often struggles with trust issues. A couple cannot expect a legal document to make one spouse stop cheating. The cheating spouse may feel compelled to over-deliver on such a promise and this can backfire. Once the paperwork is signed, the innocent spouse may file for divorce anyway.
Even though a postnuptial agreement does not mean the marriage is over, drafting such a document can put a damper on the marriage. It could reveal trust issues and in the back of their minds, the parties could believe that the marriage is ending. After all, those in happy marriages do not tend to think about postnuptial agreements, so such a document is often considered a last resort for couples who are thinking about divorce.
Couples should not sign a postnuptial agreement unless they fully understand what it entails. If one spouse is being coerced or pressured to sign one by the other, that is not a good sign. They should contact a lawyer right away and review it together.
Seek Legal Help
A postnuptial agreement can help your marriage in many ways. It can help you and your partner analyze your issues and document solutions in writing. If a divorce were to occur, a postnuptial agreement could make the process much easier.
Postnuptial agreements are a great way to predict the outcome of your divorce while reducing stress and emotional issues. If you are considering a postnuptial agreement, you should first consult with Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler. He can determine if such a document would be appropriate for your situation. To schedule a consultation, call (954) 346-6464.