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When most people think of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, there seems to be a negative connotation or an image of some rich, old man who doesn’t love the poor young woman he’s about to marry. But that’s certainly not reality.

Instead, both agreements are legal documents that are designed to protect you, your family, and your fiancé/spouse in the event of divorce. They shouldn’t be thought of as inevitably leading to divorce and instead should be considered as one piece to any couple’s financial or estate planning needs. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements allow couples to be secure in their financial futures.

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document entered into before marriage. They are a great way to outline each person’s financial rights and responsibilities in the event of separation or divorce, which then provides a framework that allows both spouses to make informed financial decisions going forward.

If you have any premarital assets (a house, savings, a family inheritance, or a business), or even pre-existing debts (credit card debt, student loans, etc.), you should consider a prenuptial agreement. Both spouses benefit from a prenup!

Postnuptial Agreements

Postnuptial agreements are similar to prenups but are entered into after or during the marriage. There are certain legal differences and requirements for them to be considered valid, but much of the overall framework is the same. A couple may consider a postnuptial agreement when certain circumstances arise that were not contemplated beforehand.

Some examples may include receiving a family inheritance, or the accumulation of other assets that one or both spouses decide should not be part of the marital estate.  For instance, has one spouse suffered an injury and received compensation that should be secured for medical care and related costs? Partners don’t always have to be contemplating divorce. However, even when they are, there is a benefit to working through each party’s financial rights and responsibilities when a couple is still amicable and able to make decisions from a place of love and compromise, instead of from an emotional place of resentment.

Other Considerations

  1. Prepare: Don’t wait until the month or week before the wedding to bring it up.
  2. Each party should have the opportunity to consult their own attorney.
  3. Both parties should disclose their full income, assets, and debt.
  4. Premarital assets are typically considered off-limits.
  5. Parties should discuss if they will equitably divide their marital assets, so they have a better understanding of their financial rights and responsibilities going forward.
  6. Couples should consider alimony and work on drafting agreed-upon terms.
  7. Postnups should be based on your specific circumstances (i.e. how long you’ve been married, are there children, lifestyle, etc.).
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