A prenuptial agreement is a document that most people have heard about thanks to television, film and/or popular media. It is a contract that engaged couples sign before they get married. Fewer people have heard about postnuptial agreements, although they may be able to infer the purpose of such contracts from the name alone.
A postnuptial agreement is very similar to a prenuptial agreement, although people sign it at a different point in their lives. It is a contract between spouses that usually concerns their property, obligations and finances. Why would those who have already married decide that they want to sign a postnuptial agreement?
To work on marital issues
Some couples can tell that their relationship has started to fall apart, and they may seek to find ways to repair that damage. Negotiating a post-nuptial agreement is a surprisingly effective tool for those trying to work through marital challenges.
Couples may need to discuss the issues that they have had thus far and their expectations for the relationship in the future as they put the document together. They will also clarify what would happen in the event of a divorce, which can take the mystery and romance out of the prospect of filing. Many couples find that negotiating a postnuptial agreement might actually improve their relationship with their spouse and help them avoid divorce.
To prepare for a strategic exit
Perhaps spouses have already acknowledged to each other that their relationship is no longer functional or satisfying. They may recognize that they need to file for divorce, but they don’t want a messy process. Negotiating a postnuptial agreement allows people contemplating divorce to set their terms at their own pace and while they are in an amicable place with their spouse. The terms that they set in the postnuptial agreement may lead to an uncontested divorce filing.
The spouses can wait till the time is right to actually file without worrying that the terms that they set might somehow fluctuate because they have a written agreement. Those who have started a successful business, caught their spouse cheating or inherited a lot of money from their parents might see the value in putting together a postnuptial agreement.
Talking about expectations and property rights with a spouse for the purpose of signing a postnuptial agreement can be uncomfortable at first but may actually benefit the relationship and/or both individuals in the long run.