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What is a Post-Nuptial Agreement?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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Many couples see a lawyer before marriage to prepare a contract known as a pre-nuptial agreement. Others see a lawyer after the wedding for another type of contract, which has a similar purpose, but is known as a post-nuptial agreement. There are various reasons for choosing a post-nuptial agreement instead of agreeing to a contract in advance, and sometimes, couples engage in both types.

One reason for utilizing a post-nuptial agreement may be that circumstances will change drastically shortly after the couple gets married. If a large business transaction is pending but won’t be completed until after the wedding vows, it may make more sense to opt for a post-nuptial agreement so that the transaction is included in any arrangements.

Unforeseen issues may also arise after marriage, such as one spouse receiving a large inheritance. This may need to be addressed clearly by way of a post-nuptial agreement, especially if children are involved and the deceased would want the inheritance to revert to those children in the case of the beneficiary’s divorce. It may also be important to protect the inheritance for children in case the beneficiary should become incapacitated or deceased.

While many couples shy away from both the pre- and post-nuptial agreement contract, especially if they do not enjoy great wealth, either one or both may be important to consider. State laws leave division of property, assets, and debts up to a single judge in most cases. You may well have better protection if you create a detailed, legal agreement that both of can live with.

A post-nuptial agreement may also help get things out into the open. Rather than wondering or worrying about financial issues, you will be forced to discuss them in a straightforward manner. This may actually help you and your spouse communicate better, since there won’t be a sense of holding back. Your spouse may also feel more secure knowing what to expect, instead of being disappointed or angry later.

Most people do not really enjoy discussing such things, which is understandable, but it is important to be open and honest about monetary concerns especially when dealing with your spouse. A post-nuptial agreement is also a good way to take stock of what each one of you owns so you can both make sure that all of your assets are listed in one place for insurance or other purposes.

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Discussion Comments
By anon138956 — On Jan 03, 2011

My husband and I are on the verge of a divorce. He suggested getting a post nup agreement and staying together for the kids' sake. He makes more money than me ($60,000). I make $30,000. If we get a post nup now, and say we do get divorced in the next few years, could I still try to get alimony/maintenance based on our incomes before the post nup?

He wants me to sign off my rights to future earnings on his pension. I own a small business and he also wants to have it appraised and take 50 percent of the value against his pension.

Along with my home business I have been a stay at home mother with our three sons for the past 14 years. I do not have a pension or any type of retirement. I don't want to give up my rights/opportunities to receive alimony. Thank you! Kelly

By zaruca53 — On Jun 01, 2009

Does a post-nuptial agreement protects you against your husband's credit cards debt?

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