Postnuptial agreements —sometimes referred to as ‘”postnups”—are voluntary legal contracts a couple signs after they get married that dictate how they will handle their affairs in the event of a divorce or separation. They are akin to prenuptial agreements, except for the fact that couples create them post- rather than pre-marriage.
Postnups are on the rise in America, amongst both affluent and middle class couples. In fact, 50 percent of surveyed family law attorneys reported an increase in postnups over the last three years, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).
Experts recommend that each spouse obtain his/her own attorney when creating a postnup to avoid a conflict of interest and to ensure the agreement is fair and would uphold in court. To talk to a legal professional in Maryland about a creating postnuptial agreement, call Hecht & Associates for a consultation: 301-587-2099. Our postnuptial agreement lawyers have years of experience drafting postnups and can assist you with the process.
Why would a couple want a postnuptial agreement?
Much like prenuptial agreements, postnups are a touchy subject between partners. Some spouses may wait until after the wedding to bring up a legal contact because it is much gentler than saying, “Sign here before we walk down the aisle.” However, bringing up the subject can sometimes create tension in a marriage because one spouse may see it as an indication that the other spouse has lost faith in the relationship or foresees a divorce.
That is not always the case. There are several reasons couples tend to seek a postnups:
- Stay-at-home parent: When one partner puts he or she career to the side to raise children, they may want to enter into a postnups to ensure her financial security.
- Punishment: When one partner cheats or otherwise breaks trust, the other partner may decide to forgive them, but only in the event that they create a postnup. “Common reasons for an individual to suggest a postnup to his or her spouse are to punish the partner for bad behavior, such as infidelity, or to show commitment to a fractured marriage by guaranteeing a richer settlement for the partner if things don’t work out,” explains The Wall Street Journal.
- Inheritance: When a partner is in his or her second or subsequent marriage and has children from a prior marriage, they may want to have a postnup to ensure the children get a portion of his assets or inheritance.
- Amend a prenup: When a couple wants to change the terms of a prenup, they can create a new postnup that voids the old contract and spells out new terms.
What do postnuptial agreements entail?
A postnup can detail any terms the couple chooses, so long as they both agree and the arrangement is not grossly unfair. (Courts frown upon agreements that are highly one-sided and leave one partner high and dry.)
One wife, for instance, wanted to give her husband incentive to stay thin, so they added a clause to their prenup that said that she was entitled to an extra $150,000 of marital assets at the time of divorce if her husband weighed over 220 pounds. Their attorney quipped, “Ten years later the clause didn’t seem so cute anymore to the husband.” The wife agreed to drop the stipulation and they created an updated postnup.
According to the AAML, the top three subjects covered in postnups are property division, alimony/spousal maintenance, and retirement accounts. Postnups allow couples the opportunity to spell out how they will divide their property, including both the individual property they had prior to marriage, as well as their marital assets.
Other things you may want to add include:
- Incurring debts
- Child support
- Division of labor at home
- Business stipulations
How do I go about creating a postnuptial agreement?
Your first step is to consult a family law attorney that specifically handles postnups. You must carefully draft and maintain the document in order for it to hold up in court.
When you meet with your postnuptial agreement lawyer, bring a list of your assets and notes about the important aspects you want to address in the agreement. Make sure to itemize all of the important accounts and assets, not just the big ones. Too many couples make the mistake of not mentioning their personal items they brought into the marriage, such as a gun collection or an antique china set, sparking a major tug-of-war during a divorce.
Maggie Baker, a psychologist who helps couples with money issues cautions spouses to be careful about bringing up the topic: “To suggest a postnup in an insecure relationship may be experienced as a breach of trust and do irreparable damage to the marriage.” Make sure to approach the subject gingerly with your spouse so as not to cause unnecessary hurt or strife.
To begin creating a postnuptial agreement in Maryland, call our family law attorneys at Hecht & Associates in Maryland today at 301-587-2099 to speak with postnuptial agreement lawyer.