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When is a postnuptial agreement used?

Marriage requires a lot of commitment and sharing to work. Combining your resources and taking responsibility for one another opens you up to risk in a financial and legal sense. Occasionally, people who are already married recognize that they need some kind of protection.

Postnuptial agreements provide an opportunity for those who are already married to create many of the same protections people enjoy after signing a prenuptial agreement. When do couples decide to negotiate postnuptial agreements?

After receiving a windfall

A large inheritance would in theory remain the separate property of the spouse who received those assets. However, it is a common practice for people to move into inherited real estate or deposit certain funds into shared checking accounts, thus making their inheritance vulnerable if they ever divorce.

Individuals who have recently inherited significant property may want to negotiate a postnuptial agreement to ensure their spouse cannot claim that inheritance if they later divorce.

When planning a risky business or financial move

Although spouses traditionally share everything with each other, sometimes complete commingling of financial resources is a dangerous prospect. If your spouse is about to start a business and runs the risk of the company failing, creating certain financial separations between the two of you now could be a smart move. Setting aside certain assets as separate can help protect them if either spouse faces a lawsuit later.

When coping with significant marital issues

Maybe one of you cheated, or perhaps you have slowly grown apart over the many years of your marriage. When you aren’t sure if you will remain married, negotiating a postnuptial agreement can help the two of you avoid a messy and expensive litigated divorce.

You can set terms now about how you will divide your property and share parental responsibilities. As an added bonus, some couples find that discussing misconduct and clarifying their expectations for one another can actually strengthen their marriages and help them avoid a divorce that previously seemed inevitable.

How do you bring up a postnuptial agreement?

However, highlighting the mutual benefits of the agreement, including the possibility of an improvement in your relationship and the reduced chance of an acrimonious divorce, might help your spouse to understand why an agreement could benefit you both. If the two of you can cooperate, your negotiations may help you reconnect with one another and even improve your perspectives on your relationship.

Understanding when people draft postnuptial agreements can help you determine if the time is right for you to create one with your spouse.