What is a Postnuptial Agreement and How Can It Protect You?

With over half of marriages ending in divorce, protecting yourself and your assets is a legitimate concern. However, with the stigma associated with prenuptial agreements, most couples enter into matrimony without any kind of legal document outlining the financial responsibilities that will be shared, and those that will be kept separate. As many people are finding out the consequences of unprotected marriage, and subsequent divorce, postnuptial agreements are gaining popularity. This is a lesser-known legal option that addresses the same issues as a prenup does, except that it is completed after the wedding.

Sometimes, we don't always know what we're getting into when we marry someone, especially when it comes to their financial habits. Things like out-of-control spending, mental illness, or impending mortgages or car loans can prompt someone to ask for a postnuptial agreement. However, a postnup can be a great idea, even if things are going smoothly! Many couples, after the initial newlywed glow wears off, realize that protecting their assets and dividing responsibilities is a smart idea for the future of their relationship.

Just like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial contract can outline each party's rights and responsibilities in a variety of areas, and address things like:

  • Who keeps certain pieces of property (real estate, vehicles, etc.)
  • How to divide assets in the case of one spouse's death
  • Which spouse pays alimony (how much and for how long)
  • Who is responsible for which marital debts (credit cards, mortgages, etc.)

While this kind of enforceable legal agreement can give great peace of mind to many couples, a postnup may not be for everyone. In some cases, a postnup may give fewer rights and benefits to the lower-earning spouse, as opposed to what they might get in a trial divorce. When economically mismatched spouses enter into legal contracts, it's important that both parties have a good family law specialist to review the details, before signing. Like with most legal agreements, once you sign a postnuptial form, it's not likely that you'll be allowed to change it.

If you are planning an upcoming marriage, and don't want to broach the subject of a prenup, then you may benefit from waiting after the wedding to discuss legal rights and responsibilities with your new spouse. Likewise, if you're already married, and are concerned about a fair division of assets, it might be time to talk to a Los Angeles lawyer about creating a postnuptial agreement. When you need expert advice on these legal contracts, get in touch with T&L Family Law. We're here to help!

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