You don't have to be a wealthy movie star or sports hero to need a post-nuptial agreement. There are reasons to draw one up that have nothing to do with love or power. If your circumstances changed after you walked down the aisle, a post-nuptial agreement provides a valuable tool to identify and establish how the new circumstances will be handled.
Reasons For Post-Nuptial Agreements
Even if you had a pre-nuptial agreement, significant changes to your financial landscape can create the need for a post-nuptial agreement. Post-nups are often used to amend the pre-nup you signed before you were married. A relative passing and leaving you a substantial amount of money is another reason to design a post-nuptial agreement. Some couples write up a post-nup when a major promotion at work occurs or one of them wins the lottery.
If one of you has children from a previous relationship, a post-nuptial agreement can define the financial decisions to be made with regard to those children in the event of divorce, death or incapacitating medical problems.
Post-nuptial agreements typically outline what assets belong to each of you individually and collectively. How and where those assets will be dispersed in the event you divorce or one of you dies is also included in the contract. A post-nup can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It can have clear cut one-step instructions or can go into many scenarios and what-ifs and detailed instructions for each possibility.
Post-nups are also used to stop financial arguments by pre-setting a household budget.
A poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers noted an increase in post-nuptial agreements from 2002 to 2007.
Though most post-nups are designed to protect financial assets, across the nation attorneys have reported putting together post-nuptial agreements to determine non-monetary issues as well. Want to limit the number of times your mother-in-law can visit? Does your wife insist that you reduce the number of hunting trips you will go on this year, and wants you to put it in writing? Put it in a post-nup.
Proceed With Caution
Judges look carefully at post-nuptials to determine whether it was created with malice of forethought. In other words, if you put one together because you know you are about to leave the marriage and want to set yourself up before doing so, the judge may not accept the contract terms. Using a post-nuptial as a tool to strengthen a marriage or to protect assets that come into existence during the marriage, however, will be most likely upheld in court.
Candace Webb has been writing professionally since 1989. She has worked as a full-time journalist as well as contributed to metropolitan newspapers including the "Tennessean." She has also worked on staff as an associate editor at the "Nashville Parent" magazine. Webb holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in business from San Jose State University.