Most Michigan residents have probably heard of prenuptial agreements. A prenup is a legal document which is drafted before marriage and typically governs how property will be divided and whether and to what extent spousal support will be paid should the marriage end in divorce. Many people, however, may not be familiar with a post-nuptial agreement.

A post-nuptial agreement is intended to provide the same protections as a prenuptial agreement, but it is drafted and entered into during the marriage. For any couple interested in drafting a post-nuptial agreement, it is important to consider several issues.

Particularly after children arrive, one parent in a marriage may make a conscious decision to quit their job to be a stay-at-home parent. In that circumstance, the couple may want to consider a post-nuptial agreement which addresses what the stay-at-home parent is giving up and, should the marriage result in divorce, how that individual will be compensated for quitting their job for the sake of the family.

When drafting a post-nuptial agreement it is very important to provide for the impact of a spouse losing their salary, and whether the parent leaving their job will be able to re-enter the job market at the same salary level after years of staying home. It is essential for a couple to be realistic in this regard, and not under- or overestimate a stay-at-home parent’s earning capacity. For instance, generally when the woman in a marriage leaves her job to raise children, she is likely to earn a lot less when she reenters the workforce years later. Furthermore, in a constantly evolving world, being out of work for an extended period will make it more difficult to find a job.

Whether one is interested a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, it essential to consult a family attorney who can explain their enforceability, and the issues involved in drafting such agreements.

Source: CNBC, “Why stay-at-home moms need a ‘postnup’,” Jeff Landers, Dec. 21, 2013