Some people find the idea of a postnuptial agreement a bit confusing. They know about prenuptial agreements because these premarital contracts have been part of popular culture for decades. Postnuptial agreements are less common and therefore less well-known.
As you can likely infer from the name, a postnuptial agreement is a marital contract that you sign while already married. Families in a broad range of circumstances may benefit from drafting and signing a postnuptial agreement, especially in any of the three situations below.
After the discovery of spousal misconduct
Learning that your spouse just took a loan out using their vehicle as collateral so that they could gamble might have you rethinking your entire life. The same could be said for the shocking discovery of an extramarital affair.
When you learn that your spouse has violated their vows or promises to you, or endangered your family, divorce may seem like the only way to protect yourself. However, a postnuptial agreement allows you to address misconduct and even impose a penalty if your spouse does the same thing again.
When you agree to marriage counseling
Some people go to marriage counseling because they have learned about spousal misconduct. Others end up in couples counseling because they have started to grow apart and don’t relate well anymore.
In either situation, a postnuptial agreement could be better. You can talk about your expectations for the marriage going forward and what you hope to contribute. Putting all of that in writing now might help you save the marriage.
When you are about to inherit or acquire something valuable
When your parents die, you might receive a significant inheritance. Even though they leave it only to you, your spouse could potentially claim that you commingled those assets and ask to split your inheritance if you later divorce.
On the other hand, if you have just finished dental school and intend to open your own dental practice, you may want to shield your spouse from the potential liability of a fair business investment while protecting the business if you divorce in the future. If you are about to acquire major assets or take a big risk, a postnuptial agreement can help protect yourself and your spouse.
Many couples who brought postnuptial agreements could use the process of negotiating that contract and help repair their marriage. Even if you do end up eventually divorcing, your postnuptial agreement will make that process easier and less expensive. Negotiating a postnuptial agreement with your spouse could help your marriage or facilitate a smoother divorce.