A postnuptial agreement is essentially a contract between spouses executed after they marry. Like a prenuptial contract, a postnuptial contract will often involve negotiations related to the couple’s expectations for the relationship and for what will happen if the relationship ends.
Postnuptial agreements were once very rare, but they are an increasingly common tool used by married couples in a variety of situations. Why do people who have already committed to one another in marriage decide to draft a contract with their spouse?
They have complicated or valuable personal property.
Greed can make people do crazy things, and high-asset divorces are often very difficult divorces. Some people recognize that divorce could be a messy process before they marry, and they protect themselves from the earliest days of their new relationship.
Others may only realize after getting married that they require some kind of legal protection. Maybe you started a small business during marriage and it has become incredibly successful, or perhaps you recently inherited a significant amount from your grandparents’ estate.
Many people draft postnuptial agreements because they want to protect certain assets and clarify what is actually marital property and what is separate property if they divorce.
They have issues with spousal misconduct
You share financial resources with your spouse and have some responsibility for their debts in many scenarios. It is only natural that those who discovered their spouse is a compulsive spender or a drug addict worry about the financial and legal implications of such behavior.
Postnuptial agreements create certain forms of financial and legal separation and therefore offer protection for spouses trying to work through such serious marital issues. They can also potentially impose penalties for future misconduct, which could serve as an incentive for one spouse to fix their behavior and for the other to continue working on the relationship.
Sometimes, postnuptial agreements actually help people save their marriages and avoid divorce. Other times, they simply make divorce less frustrating and messy. Understanding the purpose and benefits of a postnuptial agreement can help you decide if one might be right for your family.