Prenuptials and Postnuptials: What They Are and When to Get Them
In recent years, prenuptial agreements have become more widely-used and socially acceptable. For reasons such as rate of occurrence, range (less wealthy couples are using them more and more often) and the heightened level of equality between men and women, most courts no longer frown upon prenuptial agreements or assume that one party has a wandering eye or wavering values.
A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” is a written contract created by two people before they are married. A prenup typically lists all of the property each person owns (as well as any debts) and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage. Reasons that couples get prenups vary, but listed below are some of the most common:
- To provide clarity about financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage
- To provide protection from each other’s debts
- Especially in circumstances when one or both parties has children from a previous marriage, a prenup can provide protection and structure regarding what is given to the kids in case of death.
- For precautionary reasons: without a prenup a couple will be subject to divorce laws in their state.
If a couple decides to enter into a marriage without a prenup they can choose to create a postnuptial agreement, which is a contract that is signed after the couple has been married. Although they are becoming more commonly used, “postnups” are not yet valid in every state and are more likely to be scrutinized by courts, mainly because they can be looked at as “divorce-planning tools.” Below is a list of some reasons married couples choose to get a postnup:
- The couple wants to amend their prenup
- New business ventures: For example, it is common that in the case that one party enters into business with a new partner, the partner will request that the party get a postnup in order to ensure that the party’s spouse does not receive any of the business after the marriage.
- Separate property is used to purchase community property
- One party receives a significant inheritance
A couple can feel free to discuss what they want out of a prenup or postnup and begin creating it on their own, however it is crucial for each party to hire a separate lawyer to review the contract and advise the client. I