Postnuptial Agreements: When Should They Be Used and Why?

Prenuptial agreements, or “prenups”, are familiar to just about everyone. Unfortunately, so are the circumstances that often prompt their creation, such as a wealthy person planning to marry a less wealthy person, an individual who owns part of a family business planning to marry, or an individual with children wishes for them to inherit along with a new spouse.

Most people are still unfamiliar with postnuptial agreements, which are created after a marriage occurs. This can lead to questions regarding their use and validity. Some questions include “Isn’t it a done deal once the marriage occurs?” “Are they enforceable, since the marriage has already happened?” And “why would two people who are already married even want an agreement at that point?”

While many people do not fully understand postnuptial agreements, they can provide tangible benefits in numerous situations. For example:

• Money is said to be the main area where spouses disagree, and differences often manifest after a marriage occurs. A postnuptial agreement can be used to lay out how money is to be spent and who it belongs to.

• Partners in a new business may be concerned that, upon death, a portion of their business may end up in the hands of a spouse who lacks business savvy. A postnuptial agreement that states that a spouse cannot make a claim on the business can solve this problem.

• A spouse who uses money acquired prior to a marriage to buy a house may be concerned that, if a divorce occurs, a significant loss of wealth may result. A postnuptial agreement stating that property will be deemed separate property instead of joint property can resolve this concern.

• A spouse may question his or her spouse’s fidelity. A postnuptial agreement outlining the contractual consequences of cheating can ease these concerns.

• Marriage can complicate inheritance plans, especially if one or both spouses have children from another marriage. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can provide financial protection should a spouse pass away.

• Spouses who opt to stay home and care for children may feel financially insecure due to a lack of career and job skills. A postnuptial agreement can offer financial peace of mind.

There are countless other marital issues that can be effectively addressed via a postnuptial agreement. In order for postnuptial agreements to accomplish their purpose, they must be meet numerous legal requirements, such as ensuring they’re voluntary and involve full and fair disclosure, and mutual consent.

For assistance in understanding and creating a postnuptial agreement in the Scottsdale, Arizona, area, contact the divorce and family law experts Nirenstein Garnice PLLC at 480-351-4804.