Why Married Couples Should Consider A Postnuptial Agreement

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According to the 2019 United States National Center for Health Statistics, about four to five million people marry yearly in the U.S. However, about 42-53% of those marriages end in divorce. These statistics necessitate a cautious approach to marriage while, at the same time, hoping for the best. Therefore, it’s not only essential to think of ways to safeguard oneself if a marriage ends, but it’s also critical to have such discussions with a spouse, uncomfortable as that may be.

A postnuptial agreement developed with the guidance of specialized attorneys like KS family law may be the safeguard married couples need. Postnuptial agreements, also referred to as ‘postnups,’ are legal documents similar to the better-known prenuptial agreements.

These legal documents allow married people to determine how matters, including division of assets, alimony, and child maintenance, will be handled should the marriage end. Prenups and postnups are ideal for anyone who wouldn’t like their after-marriage life decided by the state’s divorce laws.

Differences Between Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements

Postnups became widely acceptable and enforceable from the early 1970s in the various states that allowed and adopted ‘no-fault’ divorce laws. The significant difference between prenuptial and postnuptial agreements lies in the timing. Prenuptial agreements are entered into before entering a marriage, while postnups are done by couples that are already married and who owe each other a duty of care.

The other notable difference is found in legal representation. With prenups, each person is required by the law to have an attorney while completing the agreement, whereas with postnups, the couple can decide to use one attorney. The main challenge with one attorney representing both spouses arises during scrutiny by the court, where questions about fairness or lack of bias may be viewed as needing to be adequately addressed.

Why You Should Consider Postnuptial Agreements

Postnups may come in handy among recently married couples who intentionally avoided the prenup conversation before their wedding. Such a couple may still be keen on securing a legal agreement that takes care of various issues in the unfortunate event of the marriage ending.

If you’re still uncertain, here are some reasons why you should consider having a postnuptial agreement:

1) It Can Replace An Insufficient Prenuptial Agreement

Even when a couple signed a prenup, different scenarios during the marriage may necessitate the need to include new provisions in the agreement. With both parties in agreement, the prenup can be discarded and replaced with a postnup. The postnup addresses all new developments, including issues that needed to have been carefully thought through while signing the prenup.   

2) It Helps Protect An Inheritance

Where one or both spouses expect to receive a significant inheritance during the marriage, it’s essential to determine who’s entitled to what should it end. This is especially critical for couples living in community state properties that split into two, all assets acquired while the marriage was intact. A postnup overrides such distribution of marital property by recognizing the individual beneficiary of the inheritance as the sole owner.

3) It Guarantees Inheritance Is Provided For Children From Previous Relationships

Couples with children from previous marriages may want to guarantee that no matter what happens, those children will inherit particular assets. A postnup can secure such children from being disinherited.

4) It Ensures Financial Support For Stay-At-Home Partners

When one spouse stops working for a long time to care for their young children and other domestic affairs, getting their career back on track is often challenging. The end of a marriage can put a stay-at-home spouse in a vulnerable financial position. A postnup can help provide the financial resources for such a partner after a divorce.

5) It Protects One Spouse From An Irresponsible Partner

A postnup may be necessary if your spouse has a gambling or substance addiction problem or is always caught up with the law. When such behavioral issues lead to a divorce, a postnup will protect the more responsible partner from financial losses.

6) It Helps In Settling Significant Marital Debt

A postnup can be beneficial when a marriage ends while the couple still owes substantial amounts of money borrowed to finance major projects like a mortgage for home ownership. A postnup guarantees that each spouse will offset the outstanding liability following the terms spelled in the agreement instead of the 50-50 split, which may be unfair.

Bottom Line

Postnups can provide a safety blanket for partners when a marriage fails to make it to happily ever after. If you’re considering a postnuptial agreement, discussing it as a couple first is essential. Once you agree, enlisting the services of competent family lawyers is critical. An experienced family attorney will guide you through developing a legal document that’s valid and enforceable in court.

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