What Is A Postnuptial Agreement?

postnuptial agreementYou’ve probably heard of a prenuptial agreement, in which the two parties entering into marriage sign a contract detailing what belongs to whom, and what is owed to each party in the event of a separation or divorce. Most people prefer to sign such a contract before the wedding to give them peace of mind before they legally merge their lives together.

But just because you didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement, doesn’t mean your financial situation is set in stone. Much like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can help provide peace of mind to one or both parties – the main difference being that it’s drawn up and signed after, rather than before, the wedding.

How Do You Know if You Need A Postnuptial Agreement?

There are a few reasons you and/or your spouse might want a postnuptial agreement. Most of the time they are used to protect one spouse’s marital property interests in the event the other spouse is embarking on a business venture that will entail a significant amount of risk. On the other hand, if one spouse suddenly came into a large inheritance, they may want to protect that asset in the event of a divorce, in which case a postnuptial agreement can provide that assurance.

Other times the couple may have wanted a prenup, but never got around to signing one before the wedding. In a time where more and more couples are comprised of spouses who both work outside the home, fewer people feel like the concept of communal property makes sense for their circumstances.

Alternatively, if two people get married and only then realize that they have very different ideas about how to handle money, a postnuptial agreement can help to save their marriage by defining which assets and properties belongs to which spouse. If you’re having marital problems, and you feel like your finances might be at risk because of it, a postnuptial agreement can allow you to focus on working on your marriage instead of worrying about your financial assets. Many people feel more comfortable working on relationship issues they may not otherwise have given a chance without a postnuptial agreement.

On the other hand, if you’re seriously considering divorce, a postnuptial agreement can save time and money in the divorce process by dividing property and assets ahead of time.

The birth of a child is another common reason people sometimes seek out a postnuptial agreement, especially if one or both of the spouses was previously married to someone else. A postnuptial agreement can clarify the child’s inheritance rights of property and finances from the current marriage and/or one or more previous marriages, if necessary.  However, you cannot pre-negotiate child support.

Previous marriages can also make inheritance tricky if one spouse dies, which is another common reason for seeking out a postnuptial agreement. In that situation, a postnuptial agreement can clarify who owns an asset in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse.

There are many reasons for wanting a postnuptial agreement. Whether your circumstances have changed, or you just wanted the additional peace of mind a contract can bring, the family law attorneys at Sherer Law Offices are here to help.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

When Is It Too Late to Get a Postnuptial Agreement?

schrijven met penThe answer to this question is: it’s never too late. A common misconception by many couples is that nuptial agreements can only be made before the wedding (prenuptial). While a prenuptial agreement is most widely recommended, couples who are already married can still draw up a valid marital contract, known as a postnuptial agreement.

Much like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can ensure that the interests of both spouses are protected in the event of a divorce. Prenuptials and postnuptials both allow the spouses, rather than a judge, to make the big decisions regarding distribution of marital property and asset protection. Postnuptial agreements may also give direction in regards to who is responsible for certain liabilities like credit cards or student loans after a divorce.

Postnuptial agreements can be carried out at any time during a marriage. It doesn’t matter if the couple just got married last month or if they’ve been married for 20 years. Postnuptial agreements are ideal for couples who have experienced a lot of change in their relationship, a change in financial status, or both. Postnuptials are also very beneficial for couples who have children from a previous marriage because they will be able to ensure that the interests of those children are well protected along with their own.

What is in a Postnuptial Agreement?

These agreements state the rights and responsibilities for the couple during the marriage and after the marriage in case of divorce. This agreement is unique to your personal situation. When putting together your agreement, you will want to consult an experienced attorney and make note of these items:

  • Division of property
  • Custody arrangements for children
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • College funding for the children
  • Division of other assets

Benefits of Having a Postnuptial Agreement

Many individuals think that these agreements are only for the wealthy. This is simply not the case. Most couples can benefit from such an agreement regardless of their wealth status. Compiling these agreements ahead of time gives couples the chance to work out some issues that sometimes cause problems in the marriage and lead to divorce.

For a marriage that ultimately ends, a postnuptial can ease the divorce proceedings. The agreement has taken care of the most important issues, which leaves you and your attorney to be able to deal with any other issues that may come up. This can make the divorce proceedings go much faster, helping to ease the emotional drain and lessen the cost.

Not all couples have a postnuptial or even a prenuptial agreement. Should the need arise at a later date it is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney because these agreements are legally binding documents. An attorney will ensure that content and language comply with Illinois State Law.

If you and your spouse are considering a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement, CONTACT the experienced attorneys at Sherer Law Offices for a legal consultation.

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