When it comes to marital contracts, or “marital agreements,” most people are familiar with the prenuptial agreement. It is created and signed before the wedding, and it is often used to manage and protect spouses’ finances. It also has many other potential functions. With a premarital contract, for example, you can assign each spouse’s domestic role and division of labor within the home.
There is, however, another contract that performs the same function. The only difference is that instead of creating and signing it before the wedding, you do it afterward. This contract is called a “postnuptial” contract.
Whether you prefer to create a marital agreement before or after the wedding is highly dependent on your circumstances. However, there are benefits to waiting and creating a postnuptial agreement.
- Making Money Decisions
Often, marital contracts have a reputation for protecting the richer of the two spouses. They can certainly be used this way, and they often are. A marital contract can also benefit regular, middle-class people. It can determine how the money is spent, how much is saved, and so on. It can put spouses on a specific, individual allowance, reserving a portion of the money for the family alone.
As many already know, money is one of the most argued topics in a marriage. All too often, couples have no financial plan when they begin the marriage. They make it up as they go along and keep changing the rules, trying to find a system that works for them.
However, trying to rigidly assign financial roles and duties up front may not work, either. Sometimes, a little trial and error is necessary to get things right. By waiting to create a postnuptial agreement, you give yourselves time to create a financial plan that works for everyone. You can iron out the wrinkles before it’s time to put your plan into a legal contract.
If you need early protection of your assets, you don’t have to choose between either a premarital or postmarital contract. You can draft a brief, easy prenup that covers the broad strokes. Then, as you settle into your marriage, you can create a more specific contract like the one described above. You wouldn’t even need to start from scratch. You can simply modify the existing contract.
- Creating Domestic Agreements
Many are surprised to discover that marital contracts can handle more than just money matters. They can also help guide each spouse’s role in the marriage.
A marital contract can create a clear division of labor. One person manages the bills, and the other handles the home. As parents, one spouse can have the final say on the children’s healthcare, while the other oversees their education. A marital agreement can solidify these roles in writing, officializing them.
Trying to determine such roles before the marriage may not work. Unless the couple has been living together for a while and already created a working rhythm, it may take time to discover each spouse’s strengths and weaknesses. Waiting to create a postnuptial agreement gives you time to figure out what works for you.
- Having Kids
Life doesn’t always work out as planned. Many a couple has been steadfast in their plans to have either no children at all or a predetermined number of kids. Unplanned pregnancies happen, or people find they want more children, and plans change.
Even for those who keep their plans regarding kids, they can’t always predict how having children will change their lives. As the old saying goes, “if you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”
As with the other examples we’ve mentioned, it takes time to find an equilibrium for raising children. You could be absolutely certain that you would be a better disciplinarian, only to find that your partner better fits that role. Perhaps you discover you are a better teacher, so it makes sense for you to be the homework helper.
Waiting to create your postnuptial contract gives you time to decide exactly how many kids you want. It also allows you to discover one another’s parenting styles and who best fits each role.
Preparing for a Postnup
If you decide to wait and create a postnuptial agreement, you could still use a prenup to your advantage. As we’ve stated, you can create broad financial plans that cover your immediate needs while fine-tuning the details of the marriage. You can also use a prenuptial agreement to plan for your postnuptial contract.
For example, you can create a simple prenup that stipulates what we discussed above. You can create a time limit stating you will use the first three (or however many works for you) years of the marriage to figure out the details. Then, by a certain date, you will solidify your plan, creating your detailed postnup.
In fact, it may not be necessary to create a whole new contract. You can simply go back and alter the existing prenup, adding the details and negotiations you hammer out during the predetermined time limit.
Trust our firm to help you create your marital contract. We can facilitate negotiations and help word your contract to your exact specifications. Call (310) 817-6904 today for a free consultation, or contact us online.