You’ve probably heard of prenuptial agreements. Kim and Kanye have one; so do Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Often associated with the rich and famous, these agreements range from provisions concerning what each spouse receives in the event of divorce to how much time spouses spend together. Prenuptial agreements set terms and expectations for the parties to a marriage before they enter into it. You may be less familiar, though, with postnuptial agreements. However, such agreements can also serve an important purpose, clarifying matters like financial plans for the future and allocating responsibility for certain debts.
A postnuptial agreement is also a written contract between spouses. Such agreements can help you to anticipate and plan around conflicts; you can decide how you would want to divide property in the event of a divorce. A postnup can also help you to protect your home and other assets if one spouse enters into a risky business venture or develops a substance abuse problem. (Of course, both partners must agree any arrangement memorialized in the postnup.) A postnup allows you to identify and clarify financial and marital goals, including how to provide for your children’s education and how to plan for retirement. A postnup may also outline how to handle savings and expenditures: should one spouse’s income go into savings or should it be allocated to paying bills? If you are planning to buy a house or start a business, how will those ventures be paid for? Do you want to set aside a portion of every paycheck to plan ahead for illness or unemployment? A postnuptial agreement may also address less concrete issues, such as how to handle chores at home or how to respond to infidelity.
Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular, even for people whose surname isn’t Kardashian or Zuckerberg. These agreements are seen as a way to make decisions before those decisions become weighted with emotion, a constructive way to preempt conflict and protect assets.