Despite the fact that a prenup is arranged before a marriage, you can still sign one after exchanging "I do's." This contract, known as a post-nuptial agreement, is drafted after marriage by those who are still married and either are contemplating separation or divorce or simply want to protect themselves from the unexpected in the future.
What Is a Prenuptual Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (or "prenup") is a written contract created by two people before they are married, typically listing all of the property each person owns (as well as any debts) and specifying what each person's property rights will be after the marriage.
Here are three reasons to consider a prenup after marriage and how to get one, according to an expert Chris A. Stachtiaris.
Meet the Expert
Chris A. Stachtiaris is an attorney who specializes in family law and trained in collaborative law, an alternative process to court-based divorces.
Reasons to Consider a Prenup After Marriage
- Harmony: A post-nuptial agreement, although it seems unromantic, can actually help couples struggling with financial differences to keep their marriage intact, says Stachtiaris. A post-nuptial agreement can actually help couples stay together. According to Stachtiaris, if you constantly argue about your partner's gambling debts, for instance, but your marriage is otherwise fine, you can stipulate that your debts are not their debts and vice versa. Sometimes, separating your finances can help eliminate one of your main arguments in order to live more harmoniously.
- A Way Out: If something were to ever happen to your marriage, the protection of a post-nuptial agreement can lift you out of desperation and keep you from staying in an unhappy marriage for the wrong reasons. You can use post-nuptial agreements to spell out the separation of your assets, what would happen to your assets and finances should you separate or divorce, and how the two of you would provide for your children after emancipation. (For example, would you both have to contribute to your child’s college education, even after they turn 18? If so, how much?)
- Peace of Mind: While the prenup or postnup can be controversial (maybe the person with fewer assets will feel threatened or attacked) if you both agree, a post-nuptial agreement can help you spell out (and cushion) your financial future. Knowing whether you get divorced or your spouse dies, for example, you will be financially stable.
How to Get a Post-Nuptial Agreement
The first step is to find legal representation that is well versed in family law. Look for someone who spends at least 60% of their time doing domestic legal work, recommends Stachtiaris.
Next, you and your spouse need to consider and assess all of your separate and shared assets and finances to determine what you would have to separate or stipulate in the post-nuptial agreement. One of the first things you will decide is what kind of support, if any, you will provide to one another if you separate, which legally means you would no longer be acting and behaving as married people, says Stachtiaris. For example, you could write in the post-nuptial agreement that no one would get spousal support if you were to ever separate.
Be honest with your disclosure of assets, otherwise, the prenup may be nullified.
Then, provide full disclosure of your assets. If you are not completely honest, you nullify the post-nuptial contract. While Stachtiaris suggests having access to funds separately from your spouse, you still must inform your spouse that this money exists.
Weighing the Consequences
For couples who are writing a post-nuptial agreement because they are already considering separation or divorce, Stachtiaris encourages couples to think carefully about what they really want to do. He adds that the longer a marriage lasts, the more financially intertwined the couple becomes, and the more difficult it is to go through a separation or divorce. “Give it an honest shot,” says Stachtiaris. “But if it’s plain that you or the other party isn’t going to make it, then get out.”
On the other hand, if your marriage is strong, weigh the consequences of such an agreement. Some people would take such a request the wrong way. Consider your spouse's feelings, talk it out, and be fair should you decide to go through with the post-nuptial agreement. When done correctly, post-nuptial agreements benefit both people.