Postnuptial Agreements Can Help Prevent Future Legal Issues

Postnuptial Agreements Can Help Prevent Future Legal Issues

Many people are familiar with the concept of a prenuptial agreement that couples sign before they walk down the aisle. However, another important tool in preventing complicated legal wrangling in the case of divorce is the postnuptial agreement. This contract usually covers topics such as the distribution of assets, custody of children and spousal support, but there can be a broad range of other provisions addressed as well. Here is a closer look at why and when it is appropriate to get a postnuptial agreement.


Postnuptial Agreements Defined

The postnuptial contract is for married couples, though civil unions and domestic partnerships also are covered in some cases. “Postnup” agreements lay out each spouse’s rights as they pertain to their community property and debts. Some contracts also address what would happen in the case of either spouse’s death, and others cover what would happen in the case of divorce. Many states put restrictions on postnuptial agreement provisions, and still other states prohibit the contracts entirely.


Belated Contract

Prenuptial agreements, which happen before a marriage is made official, take time to create and amend. For couples who don’t have time to draw up a prenuptial contract, the postnuptial contract is the logical alternative. Both contracts establish property rights in the case of a future divorce along with other key stipulations.


Financial Concerns

For couples that have extensive assets or divided interests, a postnuptial agreement stipulates ownership for community property, individual property and, often, inherited property. This can simply the process of asset division if there is a divorce. In addition, a postnup can be helpful if one spouse has a debt problem, or if one stands to inherit a significant amount of money that is not destined to become community property.


Estate Planning

Sometimes the terms of a postnuptial contract are more focused on estate planning in the case of the death of one spouse. The surviving spouse or the couple’s children normally would inherit the lion’s share of the estate. But certain circumstances aren’t suitable for this sort of arrangement. By setting these terms out in advance, future legal conflicts can be avoided, which is important at a time when a family is in mourning.


Child-Care Matters


Depending on the makeup of a family, custody issues can be complicated during a divorce. If there are step-children or half-siblings involved, deciding on the nuances of parental custody is difficult no matter what the circumstances. Postnuptial agreements, especially with the help of a mediator, allow couples to find the best child custody solutions. If a divorce were to happen, having this contract in advance could make the process less painful for everyone.


Spousal Support

The amount of alimony either spouse must pay the other is one of the most hotly contested issues when a marriage breaks up. Postnuptial agreements can clarify the amount, duration and timing of alimony payments in terms that both spouses agree to from the outset.

Postnuptial contracts are used for all sorts of purposes. These reasons are just a few of the applications for the legal agreements, and each couple can tailor the contract to its specific needs.




About Oliver Ross

Oliver Ross, JD*, PhD founded Out-of-Court Solutions Inc. in 1995 and since then has mediated over 3,000 divorce and family matters. He is a select member of the Maricopa Superior Court Family Mediation roster