Okay, this is a new one – you’ve likely heard of a pre-nuptial agreement, but have you ever heard of a post-nuptial one? As I have discussed here previously, marriage is a legal, religious and emotional contract. If you don’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement prior to entering into a recognized civil and legal union – the marriage laws of the state you live in govern your marriage contract (in the legal sense).
These laws govern the distribution of property and responsibility with regard to divorce or death. A post-nuptial agreement is a legal contract that a married couple enters into after they are married and they can use it to legally define obligations, property distribution and more.
It’s also important to understand that the idea of post-nuptial agreements is recognizing that life is full of unpredictable factors. Couples may actually strengthen their marriage by discussing and deciding jointly while in positive frames of mind what will and won’t happen in the event of death or divorce.
Unlike pre-nuptial agreements, the post-nuptial is an agreement between a couple already engaged in a viable and secure marriage. According to post-nuptial experts, there are two major rules you should follow when it comes to forming a post-nuptial agreement:
- Full disclosure
- Separate and independent counsel
The full disclosure part is designed to make sure you are both aware of what you are doing, what you possess and what you both expect. It’s also important to recognize that post-nuptials are not valid in all states, your state must explicitly recognize them in their legal statutes. The independent legal counsel can help you to determine if they are valid in your state.
Why Would You Do It?
There are any number of reasons to enter into a post-nuptial agreement – up to and including protecting your spouse from inheriting debt in the event of your death or divorce. It may also protect a spouse from property disputes with other heirs or to assure that you have your joint wishes followed in the event of a divorce.
From a practical standpoint, the post-nuptial simply addresses matters that you and your spouse may not be comfortable discussing, but the act of doing so and clearly defining your expectations and more can help you both to build a stronger relationship between the two of you.
Would you consider exploring the option of a post-nuptial agreement with your spouse?