Chances are, you know a couple who has signed a prenuptial agreement, or at least you've heard of them. However, there is another type of protection that many couples are seeking, and it occurs after the husband and wife say "I do." According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, postnuptial agreements are becoming more popular, and many couples are choosing to protect their assets several months or even years into their marriage.
Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about postnuptial agreements:
What Exactly Is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Much like the popular prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements are put in place to protect the assets and property of one or both spouses. The main difference between the two is when they are created and signed. The postnuptial agreement is signed and notarized after a couple is wed.
The popularity of postnuptial agreements is a recent phenomenon, and due in part to the adoption of no-fault divorce laws in several states. Under the "no-fault" divorce laws, a couple does not have to cite a reason why they are getting divorced.
Another parallel can be drawn between postnuptial and prenuptial agreements: transparency. Both spouses must disclose all their assets when drafting a postnuptial agreement. If the spouse tries to hide assets, this is considered fraud, and the agreement could be considered void.
What Are Popular Reasons Spouses Sign Postnuptial Agreements?
There are several reasons why a couple would choose to protect their assets several months, years or even decades into their marriage. Here are a just a few of the most popular reasons why couples decide to sign a postnuptial agreement:
- Many spouses who have children from a previous marriage choose to sign a postnuptial agreement to ensure part or all their estate goes to their children, in the event that spouse dies.
- Marital infidelity is another reason why couples choose a postnuptial agreement. In addition to protecting themselves financially, the unfaithful spouse might use a postnuptial agreement to show their spouse they are committed to their marriage.
- If one spouse decides to leave the workforce to care for their children, they might compel the other spouse to sign a postnuptial agreement. This will help ensure that in the event of a divorce, both couples are financially secure.
These are just a handful of the many reasons why many couples decide to sign a postnuptial agreement.
What Is the Process of Drafting and Signing a Postnuptial Agreement?
The process of drafting and finally signing and filing a postnuptial agreement will vary from state-to-state. However, in most places, there are several steps you will be required to take to create an agreement that both spouses will agree upon, and the court will accept.
To begin, it is important for both parties to hire a separate attorney. Do not work with the same attorney because this could be considered a conflict of interest by the court. Instead, each spouse should seek the services of an attorney to help ensure their individual assets and interests are being protected.
Next, each spouse will need to gather any relevant financial documents, including pay stubs and paperwork concerning their investments, retirement funds and other assets. Once again, it is critical that each spouse is completely truthful and upfront about their assets.
Many spouses find it beneficial to seek mediation while drafting their postnuptial agreement. A neutral third-party can help spouses come to a practical arrangement that benefits everyone. Finally, the agreement is examined by each spouse's attorney, and after any necessary amendments to the agreement, it is filed.
Once the postnuptial agreement is filed and accepted by the court it is a legally binding contract that will be difficult to dispute, in the event of a divorce.
Many couples have chosen to sign postnuptial agreements to protect themselves and their children, in the event of a divorce. If you have any further questions about postnuptial agreements, don't hesitate to contact resources like Marlene Dancer Adams.