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A post nup is short for post-nuptial agreement, and is essentially a pre-nuptial agreement signed after a marriage has already taken place. For a variety of reasons, a couple may decide they want to more clearly define division of assets once they are married. A change in financial circumstances, a realization of the support needs of children or family, or even a rocky relationship that a couple is trying to work out might indicate good reasons to create a post nup. Alternately, couples may have intended to sign a pre nup and lost track of time or eloped quickly before such a contract was created and signed.
As with pre-nuptial agreements, post nups are usually best constructed by lawyers. They have to conform, in most cases, to state law regarding disposition of property in the event of a divorce. Alternately, they must be worded in such a way that state laws can be ignored. A simple document created by your spouse or yourself usually won’t be adequately legal. Additionally, it’s wise for each spouse to have a lawyer when a post nup is created and signed. Since post nups define agreements in the event of a divorce, each person benefits from having a lawyer that can protect his/her interests and argue for a fair distribution of property.
In some instances, a couple that has a marriage on the rocks thinks it advisable to create a post nup. This can eliminate fighting about exactly what would occur with jointly held property should the marriage end. On the other hand, a long standing marriage may entitle both spouses to certain rights, and if a person feels forced to sign a post nuptial agreement that gives him or her less than he or she would be entitled to in the event of a divorce, it may not be in the person’s best interest to sign one. This is yet another reason why both spouses should be represented by counsel, since a lawyer can advise a spouse whether the post nup is against interest, and gives a person less than he/she is legally entitled to under the law if divorce occurs.
At other times, couples want some statement of how to divide property in the event of divorce because they may be blending families or one member of the couple inherits a large amount of money. In some state laws, inheritance may not be considered joint property, especially if inheritance amounts are never commingled with the couple’s main bank accounts. For blended families though, it might make sense to have agreements that will protect the interests of the children of each spouse, guaranteeing that a certain amount of joint funds are set aside for the continued support and education of every child.
When a sudden wedding occurs, without much planning or forethought, and there is significant imbalance of assets, couples may decide to create a financial agreement after the wedding has occurred. This can protect funds earned before the marriage occurred, and give the person with the larger bank account assurance that the marriage took place for love and not money. On the other hand, no spouse is obligated to sign a post nup, and the suggestion of creating one, especially when there are no children from previous marriages to support, may result in rifts within a marriage. A spouse being urged to sign a post nup may wonder if he/she is being tricked into taking less, or if the marriage is on less stable ground than supposed.
I don't know that this kind of contract necessarily means that a marriage is on the rocks, any more than a prenuptial agreement. I guess it just depends on whether one views a marriage as a contractual obligation or a romantic one. Individuals concerned with protecting their assets in the event of a divorce may simply be being realistic, basing their decision on the high rate of divorce in America.