Can You Ask for a Prenup After You’ve Gotten Married?
Before you got married, you may not have given much thought to obtaining a prenup or didn’t understand the value of having one. Since then, however, your circumstances or perspective have changed, and now you believe it may be a good idea. Is it too late? In most states, it’s definitely not too late. After marriage, a prenup is called a postnuptial agreement or “postnup” for short, but it functions in much the same way. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement, or postnup, is a legal contract that establishes how the couple will divide their money and property in the event of a divorce. But many people are surprised to learn that it can also dictate the couple’s rights, responsibilities, and expectations during the marriage. For example, you can spell out how you’ll divide household chores, who will pay for the children’s education, or even your expectations for monogamy. A postnup can thus be useful both within a marriage and if divorce occurs.
Advantages of a Postnuptial Agreement
Couples usually seek to sign a postnup because they have realized the important protections it can provide. Suppose one of you starts a new business, has children from a previous marriage, has aging parents in need of care, or inherits substantial assets during the marriage. In that case, a postnup can help ensure that you can hold, share, or divide your assets in the way that befits your situation, and not simply as state law outlines.
If your marriage doesn’t work out, a postnup can help prevent the divorce from turning into a nasty, protracted battle since you’ll have already decided most of the asset division issues. Importantly, if you make these decisions while the marriage is still relatively healthy, you’re more likely to make them from a rational, caring place. In the throes of a heated divorce, people often make poor, unreasonable choices out of hurt, anger, confusion, or the desire to punish their former spouse.
A postnup can help strengthen a marriage too. Going through the process of creating a prenup encourages you to have candid discussions about your expectations and hopes for your life together, and how you’d want to treat each other in the event the marriage ends. Having a postnup can also foster a sense of security: for example, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, and your spouse has all the earning power, a postnup that gives you a fair financial settlement in the event of divorce can make you feel valued as an equal, and not on the wrong side of an imbalance of power.
Postnupial Agreement Protections
A well-drafted postnup can offer a number of protections, including:
A postnup can give you control over how to divide the assets if there’s a divorce. It can help ensure that inheritances or heirlooms remain the property of the person who brought them into the marriage or be preserved for children outside of the marriage. Without a prenup or postnup, state law dictates how you must divide your property and assets, which can lead to outcomes you may feel unfair.
If you created a business after the marriage, a postnup is essential. Depending on your state’s divorce laws, your spouse could be entitled to half of your business’s value upon divorce, even if they never had the slightest role in its development. This result could have disastrous consequences for the company. A postnup can clearly define your spouse’s rights with respect to the business during the marriage and in the event of a divorce.
A postnup can also shield each of you from debts the other person incurs during the marriage. For example, if your spouse tends to rack up sizeable credit card debt or gambling debts, the postnup can clarify that you are excluded from responsibility from those obligations. Excludable debt may also include business debt, student loans, and personal loans. Without the protection of a postnup, you might be held jointly responsible for these debts, even upon divorce.
Your postnup can include an alimony clause that will reassure a spouse who is a homemaker or earns significantly less than the other spouse. This provision can pre-establish the financial support that one spouse will provide to the other in the event of divorce. The contract can even ensure that the level of support will vary to keep up with inflation, significant changes in either spouse’s earning capacity or net worth, or other conditions.
We Can Help You
If you missed the boat on signing a prenup, we can help you structure a postnup now that you’re married. At Miller Law Group, we strive to ensure that your postnup provides you and your spouse with all the protections you seek. If you have any questions, reach out to Miller Law Group for a consultation today, or call us at (914) 256-8997.