A postnuptial agreement—a kind of retroactive version of the more familiar prenup—is a way for couples to add security and assign ownership to their assets even after they’re married. After all, not everyone comes into a marriage with all the wealth they’re ever going to have. And while the “what’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine” mantra is nice, there may be situations wherein one-half of a couple wants to identify and retain what is rightfully theirs—legally.
A postnup can be broad or focused and include one or several items, but the agreement will be customized to the couple. Making this legal decision together can be empowering.
On the flip side, if one half of a couple proposes a postnup, the other party will need to get beyond the concern that their spouse is planning a swift exit from the marriage. Only then can he or she see a postnup as a benefit to the relationship, just like getting health insurance doesn’t mean someone is planning to die soon.
What to include
Here are seven common assets included in a postnup:
- Property ownership (in the event of divorce or death)
- Business ownership or significant business growth
- Alimony/spousal support
- Health insurance coverage
- Assignment of debts in the event of a divorce
- Personal assets (and any appreciation) separate from the rest of the marital estate
While in general a couple should take a positive, proactive approach when reassessing their collective (and individual) finances, in some cases a postnup is more about mending a troubled relationship. If, for example, one spouse has breached the other’s trust—through infidelity or otherwise—a postnup may be drawn up to clarify obligations within the relationship and serve as a safety net for the wronged spouse. Avvo relationship study data shows that cheating is the most common reason why couples divorce, so a postnup might be an important step to save the marriage.
And of course, should your union eventually end in divorce, a postnup will come in handy, saving you time, resources, and stress about the fate of your individual and coupled financial holdings.