Legality & Marriage: Post-Nuptial Agreements

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.

Marriage Agreements

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?

Related Articles:

What Does Marriage Mean?

Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Common Law Marriages: Hold Onto Your Hats

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.