While creating a legal contract concerning marriage may seem unromantic, it can provide invaluable protection for couples in the case of divorce or death. Many think of a marital agreement as a “prenup” or agreement signed before a couple gets married. In some cases, though, a couple enters marriage without a pre-nuptial agreement. But does this mean that they lose the right to distribute these assets according to their combined wishes?
No matter what your situation, it’s important to discuss the definition of a post-nuptial agreement and how they work so you can make informed decisions about your future together.
Post-Nuptial Agreements Explained
A general nuptial agreement is an enforceable legal agreement between a married couple outlining the distribution of assets in the event of death or divorce. Typically, a marital agreement is created before marriage and is considered a pre-nuptial agreement. When this agreement is drafted after the couple is legally married, it is regarded as a post-nuptial agreement.
These agreements have the same purpose and essentially do the same thing. While there are some differences between how pre and post-nuptial agreements are enforced, any couple can benefit. Many still wonder, though, why choose to get one now if you decided against a pre-nuptial agreement before marriage?
Why Enter Into A Post-Nuptial Agreement
There are many reasons why a couple might choose to enter into a post-nuptial agreement. Financial circumstances change regularly, and naturally, assets will grow over time. The Institute for Family Studies even reports that your ability to accumulate wealth grows after marriage. If you decide to have children, you may want to secure their financial future by determining spousal support or alimony. While still in a loving relationship, circumstances change, and the need for them to be addressed may grow.
For example, when a couple was seriously contemplating marriage, they had little assets, and the need to pay to create such a document seemed unnecessary. Now, their assets have increased significantly. They own multiple properties, cars, stock accounts, and a boat. Additionally, they have two children. While the initial need for a nuptial agreement was small, they now have considerable assets together and wish to enter into a post-nuptial agreement together to eliminate risk for their future and their children.
The Pros & Cons Of A Post-Nuptial Agreement
If you are considering a nuptial agreement, it is always better to do so before marriage. In Michigan, post-nuptial agreements, while well intended, are viewed with a certain level of skepticism and need to meet specific criteria. For example, the agreement needs to be deemed fair and even not in favor of one party over the other. Each spouse much fully disclose their assets and have the option to have an attorney review the agreement. Additionally, If intentions of a divorce at the time of the creation of such an agreement are at all suggested, parts or all of the agreement will become unenforceable.
Even so, the benefit of having an agreement outlining your wishes is undeniable. There is concern that creating a post-nuptial agreement hinders the success of marriages. In reality, having a document that protects the interests of both parties gives peace of mind. The creation of such a document can aid unions by alleviating financial concerns. You may include information in your agreement that outlines who is responsible for what bills, debt, or other expenses.
The Importance of Clear Communication And An Attorney
For a post-nuptial agreement to be successful, there must be excellent communication and mutual understanding between spouses. Without this, a post-nuptial agreement will not be able to provide the benefits that it is intended for. Having an attorney aware of your intentions and goals is essential to a successful agreement, as they can provide guidance and advice on the best way to move forward. Attorney involvement can minimize the potential for misunderstandings or conflict down the road.
If you are considering a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, contacting an attorney that is well-versed in family law and understands the importance of your unique situation contributes to a favorable outcome for all parties involved.