Many people have heard of prenuptial agreements which allow people who going to get married to decide what will happen in the event of a divorce. If you are already married, it is not too late to ask your spouse to sign an agreement regarding what will happen in case the marriage doesn't work out. A postnuptial agreement is a way to settle some of the issues that could come up in a divorce in advance.
What is a postnuptial agreement, and why would I consider signing one with my spouse?
A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement except that it is entered into after the parties are already married. The primary disadvantage of a post-nuptial agreement over a prenuptial agreement is that the agreement will not cover the time that the parties have been married prior to the execution of the agreement.
Many people believe that prenups (and postnuptial agreements) are primarily for rich people. However, the use of prenups and postnuptial agreements is becoming more common for individuals with average moderate incomes. The following are some examples of what a postnuptial agreement can be used for.
- To protect business assets.
- To state who gets a pet in the event of divorce.
- To state how much alimony a spouse will receive in the event of a divorce.
- Estate planning issues such as how trusts or inheritances will be handled.
A person might decide to get a postnuptial agreement for many reasons. One is that they realize that they need to protect assets such as a business, but it is too late for a prenup because they are already married. Many people experience changes in their financial situation during the marriage and may decide to get a postnuptial agreement so that they can worry less about what will happen if they experience divorce.
Many people do not want to sign a prenup or postnuptial agreement because they feel that doing so would mean that they don't believe their marriage will work out. This type of agreement actually can make many people feel more secure in their marriage because they don't have to worry about the uncertainty of what will happen if they get divorced. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can save a lot of time and stress in the event of divorce that can make some people think about the possibility less than they would have otherwise. Another advantage is that spouses can discuss what will happen in a divorce while they are calm and getting along rather than when they are arguing and dealing with the stress of divorce.
What will a postnuptial agreement not cover?
A postnuptial agreement will not cover issues that must be decided according to Missouri state law, such as child support. Alimony or spousal support is a separate matter, and allocation of alimony is a common provision in many prenups and postnuptial agreements.
A postnuptial agreement may be unenforceable if it contains provisions that are against public policy or if it was entered into based on fraud, duress, or coercion. It is a good idea for each party who signs a prenup or postnuptial agreement to discuss the agreement with their own separate attorney to prevent any accusations later that they were under duress or did not understand what they were signing.