A postnuptial agreement, also known as a post-marital agreement, is a legal contract entered into by married couples after they have tied the knot. While prenuptial agreements are signed before marriage, postnuptial agreements are created during the course of the marriage. A postnup can detail how the division of assets and debts will be handled if a couple chooses to divorce or separate, and it may also address other financial issues, such as whether one party will pay spousal support to the other.
In recent years, postnuptial agreements have gained popularity among couples who want to protect their individual interests and clarify financial expectations within their marriage. But can these agreements actually help prevent divorce? An attorney can provide guidance on what terms may be included in a postnuptial agreement and the benefits that a postnup can provide.
The Purpose of Postnuptial Agreements
Postnuptial agreements serve several purposes, including:
Asset protection: A primary goal of many postnups is to protect each spouse’s separate property and ensure that it remains with them in case of divorce or separation.
Debt allocation: Couples may use postnups to determine how marital debts will be allocated between them if they decide to part ways.
Estate planning: Some couples include provisions related to estate planning in their postnups, such as inheritance rights for children from previous relationships.
Safeguarding business interests: If one or both spouses are business owners, a well-drafted postnup can help safeguard those business interests in case of divorce.
The Role of Communication
Besides addressing financial matters, creating a postnuptial agreement requires open communication between spouses. Discussing sensitive topics like finances and asset division can lead to better understanding and clarity within the marriage. This communication can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts that may eventually lead to divorce.
By openly discussing their expectations, fears, and concerns, couples have an opportunity to strengthen their bond and work through any underlying issues. The process of creating a postnuptial agreement can serve as a catalyst for important conversations about trust, financial goals, and long-term plans.
In order for a postnuptial agreement to be legally valid in Wisconsin, certain requirements must be met:
The agreement must be in writing.
Both spouses must voluntarily sign the agreement without coercion or duress.
The agreement should include full disclosure of each spouse’s assets, debts, income, and liabilities at the time of signing.
The terms of the agreement should not be unconscionable or grossly unfair to one party.
If these requirements are not met, or if there is evidence that one spouse was coerced into signing the agreement against their will, a court may deem the postnup invalid during divorce proceedings. It is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney when drafting a postnuptial agreement to ensure that it will be enforceable.
Preventing Divorce Through Postnups
A well-drafted postnuptial agreement can potentially help prevent divorce by addressing key issues before they become major sources of conflict. By clearly defining how assets will be divided and debts will be allocated in case of separation or divorce, couples may feel more secure about their financial future together. This added security can reduce anxiety surrounding money matters within the marriage.
In addition to providing financial protection, postnups also encourage open communication between spouses regarding sensitive topics related to finances, as well as the possibility that their marriage could end. This communication can help build trust, strengthen the marital bond, and prevent misunderstandings that may lead to divorce. By putting an agreement in place, a couple will understand how they will be affected by a potential divorce, which may give them the incentive to maintain a positive relationship and avoid behaviors that could cause their marriage to break down.
If you are considering creating a postnuptial agreement or have questions about what steps you can take to protect yourself should divorce become a possibility, Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP is here to help. Our Milwaukee, WI postnup lawyers can help you negotiate an agreement that will benefit you and your spouse and provide you with security in the future. Contact us at 414-271-1440 to set up a free consultation and learn more about whether a postnup is right for you.