It’s never too late to sign a prenuptial agreement- even after you’ve said “I do.”  Married couples who would like to plan for the possibility of divorce can sign a postnuptial agreement, which is essentially a prenup for already-wed couples.

A postnuptial agreement is a mutually satisfying agreement between both partners drafted with the help of a family law attorney.  Like a prenup, a postnup can dictate how the couple’s assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. It can also include terms of spousal and child support, along with any other marriage clauses that would be part of a prenup. Postnuptial agreements can also be used to change or update the terms of a prenuptial, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Married couples sign postnuptial agreements for a variety of reasons. Financial advisor, Michelle Smith, told WSJ that asking for a postnup is a less-loaded discussion than requesting “Please sign here before we walk down the aisle.”

Postnuptial agreements are not just for newlyweds. Couples married for any length of time can sign a postnup.  Spouses at various stages in their marriage sign postnups for various reasons.

Joslin Davis, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers told WSJ that one of the most common reasons for seeking a postnup is to punish a spouse for marital misconduct, such as an affair. Other common reasons for signing a postnup, as reported by ABC News include:

  1. One or both partner has children from a previous marriage- A postnuptial agreement can ensure that children receive assets as intended upon death of the parent. Adversely, the agreement can be used to prevent step children from claiming entitlement to assets.
  2. To show willingness to stay in the marriage- setting favorable terms of agreement show that a spouse is willing to stay married.
  3. One spouse has left the workforce –The choice to stay at home and raise children can increase the need for financial security through spousal support.

Money Talks News columnist Stacy Johnson suggestions that postnups can serve as a financial roadmap by designated who pays for what expenses, such as those associated with a business owned by a partner prior to marriage.

Petrelli law has seen an increase in postnuptial mediation among couples experiencing conflict in their marriage.  But not all couples who sign a postnup are preparing for an inevitable divorce. For some, the agreement can mean the marriage is over, but for many couples, the process can lead to emotional breakthroughs and help them achieve a new level of emotional intimacy.

Equality in Marriage suggests bringing up the subject can be a great way to resolve underling financial and communication issues and that by opening the line of discussions, couples can be on their way to solving festering problems and strengthening their marriage.

ABC News warns that that while a postnuptial agreement can offer security, it does not guarantee that couples will avoid challenges in their marriage or court battles during a dissolution. Courts tend to prefer a prenuptial agreement over a postuptial.  Additionally, postnuptial agreements are not enforceable in every court as many states have their own laws regarding postnupts.  For example, Postnuptial mediation is an option for Pennsylvania couples, but Huffington Post reports that Ohio doesn’t recognize postnups and Minnesota only recognizes the contract  if each spouse is represented by his and her own attorney.

Couples considering a postnuptial agreement are urged to contact a local family law attorney to discuss their legal options.

Tom Petrelli

Posted by Tom Petrelli

The family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC, (Previously Petrelli Law, P.C. ) approach each family law case with the care and sensitivity that it deserves. The firm's attorneys have a firm grasp of the applicable laws and the legal ramifications involved and can answer specific questions you may have about your family law issue and ensure that you have full knowledge of your rights. Serving South Jersey and Philadelphia with locations at: 1845 Walnut Street, 19th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19103 | (215) 523-6900 227 Laurel Road, Suite 100, Voorhees, NJ 08043 | (201) 655-7204 180 N. Stetson Street, Suite 3500, Chicago, IL 60601 | (312) 252-2085 516 DeKalb Street, Suite C, Norristown, PA 19401 | (610) 924-2870 203 W Chestnut St, Suite 204, West Chester, PA 19380 | (610) 431-4012