You’ve Heard of the Prenup. But What About the Postnup?

You’ve Heard of the Prenup. But What About the Postnup?

Nearly everyone has heard of prenuptial agreements. These legal agreements that precede marriages are rather infamous, though undeservedly, in our society.

Despite the numerous benefits and practicality of a prenuptial agreement, many couples hesitate to get one for fear of upsetting their spouse-to-be or of breaking down their union into contractual terms.

Prenups are contracts signed by each member of a couple that defines the status of each person’s individual property should the relationship ever end. It is especially useful when one partner has a great deal more assets than the other, or if one partner wants to ensure that their personal assets go to his or her children from a previous relationship should the marriage not work out. The terms of a prenup can vary greatly depending on the needs and goals of each couple.

However, prenups are only enforceable if they were officially enacted prior to the marriage. But what happens if you get married and you suddenly regret that you did not talk to your spouse about getting a prenup? What can you do if you get married then your individual financial circumstances change through an unexpected event like a death that leads to an inheritance or your personal business suddenly taking off?

These are the types of situations where it may be useful to utilize a “Postnuptial Agreement.”

Postnups are usually quite similar to their pre-marital cousins, but they can be enacted after a marriage. For many years they were not accepted in the United States because the common understanding was that husbands and wives could not enter into a contractual agreement because they ceased to be two separate people through their marital union, and a single person cannot make a contract with his or herself.

However, throughout the 1970s and 1980s legal jurisprudence evolved with regard to postnuptial agreements and many states, including Alabama, began to allow them.

There are generally three different types of postnuptial agreements:

  1. An agreement where division of property with regard to a married couple is defined for the event of one member of the couple dying. This is usually for the purpose of a spouse waiving their right to any inheritance they otherwise would have been entitled to as a husband or wife.
  2. A contract that is, for all intents and purposes, a separation agreement that is meant to avoid the cost and time of divorce proceedings. This agreement defines the division of property, assets, and things like alimony or child support.
  3. Most similar to a prenuptial agreement, a postnup can be an agreement where one member of a couple waives their rights to certain property or assets (obtained before or after the marriage) should a divorce or separation ever occur.

Postnuptial agreements must fulfill all of the same criteria as a prenuptial agreement including that it must be written, voluntary, completed with full disclosure, fair and conscionable, executed by both parties before a notary.

So, if you ever find yourself regretting the fact that you did not get a prenup before getting married, or if your life and financial circumstances are changing and you want to plan accordingly, please contact New Beginnings Family Law to find out how our attorneys can aid you in obtaining a postnuptial agreement.

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