Some people associate prenuptial agreements with the very wealthy and spouses-to-be who do not trust each other. But in fact, a prenup can help each spouse feel financially secure entering the marriage. Anybody of any income and level of wealth could use the reassurance of knowing what their financial settlement would be if they ever get divorced.
Postnuptial agreements serve a similar function, but the context is different. Instead of drawing it up before you and your spouse got married, you create a postnup after the marriage already began and you owe each other a fiduciary duty. But just like a prenup, couples use postnups to settle who will keep which pieces of marital property if they ever divorce.
Three times to consider a postnuptial agreement
Good reasons to consider a postnup include:
- You created a prenup but circumstances have changed and the document is now outdated.
- Your relationship has become troubled, though you are still trying to work things out.
- A major economic change has occurred. For example, one spouse has started a new business and has very little income or has gotten a new, much higher-paying job. Or one spouse stopped working to become a stay-at-home parent.
Negotiating, drafting and signing a postnuptial agreement does not mean your marriage is doomed or that you or your spouse want out. But if things change, you will have a predictable, fair and practical property division agreement already in place. Each of you should be represented by your own attorney to avoid a conflict of interest. Your lawyer will advise you of your property rights and represent you in negotiations.