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Should You Get a Post-Nuptial Agreement?


Even if you didn’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement before the wedding, you and your husband or wife can protect your finances with a post-nuptial agreement. This contract happens after marriage between those who are still married and either are contemplating separation or divorce or simply want to protect themselves for the unexpected in the future, according to the Legal Dictionary. A post-nuptial agreement, although it seems unromantic, can actually help couples struggling with financial differences to keep their marriage intact, says Chris A. Stachtiaris, an attorney focused in family law and trained in collaborative law, an alternative process to court-based divorces.

How can a post-nuptial agreement help you stay together? For instance, says Stachtiaris, if you are constantly arguing about your husband’s gambling debts but your marriage is otherwise fine, you can stipulate that your debts are not his debts and visa versa. Sometimes, separating your finances can help eliminate one of your main arguments and live more harmoniously. Also, feeling protected if something were to ever happen to your marriage 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 so much for your child’s college education even after the child turns 18? If so, how much?) Basically, says Stachtiaris, you can address anything you’d like in 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 percent of his or her time doing domestic legal work, says Stachtiaris. Next, you and your husband or wife need to consider and assess all your assets – separate and shared – 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 are to separate, which legally means that 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.

When done correctly, post-nuptial agreements benefit both people – the one who is the wealthiest and earns the most and the one who earns less and seems to have more to lose financially. You can protect what you have so that you don’t lose anything if the marriage doesn’t work out.

There is one warning about post-nuptial agreements. You have to be honest. You must provide full disclosure of your assets; if you don’t provide full disclosure, you nullify the post-nuptial contract. While Stachtiaris suggests having access to funds separately from your spouse, you still must tell your spouse that this money exists.

Finally, for couples who are writing a post-nuptial agreement because they are already considering separation or divorce, Stachtiaris encourages them 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.”

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