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Motivations for postnuptial agreements

Last post, we discussed prenuptial agreements and the kinds of issues they can cover. An important thing to note is that prenuptial agreements are not the only property-related agreements couples can reach. There are also postnuptial agreements.

Postnuptial agreements can be used to address the same kinds of property matters as prenuptial agreements. The big difference between the two types of agreements regards when they are reached. Prenups are reached and signed before a marriage, while postnuptial agreements are reached and signed after a couple has gotten married.

Why might a couple want to form a property-related agreement after they have gotten married? There are a truly wide range of potential reasons for wanting a postnuptial agreement.

For one, a married couple that did not reach a prenuptial agreement (for reasons such as not thinking they needed one or not wanting to bring the topic up before the wedding) may now want the property protections and clarifications a property-related agreement can establish.

Married couples with prenuptial agreements can also end up wanting a postnuptial agreement. A lot can change after a couple gets married, so a married couple could end up feeling like a prenuptial agreement they formed no longer accurately reflects their wishes and situation. Postnuptial agreements can be used to make changes to the property-related arrangements a couple reached in a prenuptial agreement.

Sometimes, married couples end up being drawn to a postnuptial agreement because family members want certain protections created for important family assets.

Additionally, couples sometimes turn to postnuptial agreements in response to a disruptive relationship event, such as infidelity. In the wake of such an event, a couple may desire to put a new type of property arrangement in place between them.

Whatever reason a married individual has for wanting a postnuptial agreement, it can be vital for them to have the guidance of a skilled family law attorney when taking efforts to get such an agreement put in place. Courts generally give such agreements a good deal of scrutiny, so missteps in drafting and forming the agreement could endanger the agreement's enforceability. Thus, doing things right is critical when forming postnuptial agreements.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Why Postnuptial Agreements Are on the Rise," Veronica Dagher, March 10, 2016

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