Chances are you’ve heard of a prenuptial agreement before – these are legal contracts spouses agree to before their wedding. Prenups primarily cover issues that affect how property would be split in the event of the divorce and can’t really take much else into account.
If you haven’t heard of a postnuptial agreement before, what’s important to understand for now is that this is a legal agreement that spouses can enter into after they are already married. It can predetermine everything a prenup can cover, but it can also settle issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and many more things that a prenup can’t take into account.
Another important point of contrast between a prenup and a postnup is what the courts think of them. From the day they’re signs, prenups are considered valid by the courts in California, whereas prenups start out in court under the assumption that they are invalid.
Part of the reason for this is because a postnup can cover many different and potentially sensitive issues. Using child support as an example, the court must consider the best interests of a child before issuing any judgment – ruling blindly in child custody cases on the basis of a postnup could put the child in harm’s way.
Reasons Why You Should Consider a Postnup
Ultimately, people get postnups for the same reason they or other people get prenups. Either of these documents can help someone protect important assets and interests should their marriage end in divorce.
You might consider getting a postnup, for example, if you started a business before getting married that has since exploded into a highly profitable enterprise. By getting a prenup, you could preclude your spouse from claiming ownership interests in your company in the event of a divorce.
A postnup can also help you if you are on a second or third marriage and want to protect certain assets – like family businesses or vacation homes – for the benefit of children from your previous marriages.
Postnups can even be used to protect one’s interests and assets from their spouse’s bad habits, like cheating, gambling, or overspending.
Legal Requirements for a Postnuptial Agreement
Postnups are legally binding contracts between spouses. As such, they must meet certain criteria before they can be considered valid by a judge.
Some requirements of a postnup include the following:
- Must be written
- Must be signed by both spouses and notarized
- Must have been signed voluntarily
- Must be fair (can’t leave a spouse penniless)
- Each spouse must fully disclose their financial information, including income, assets, debts, and property.
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to get a postnup comes down to whether or not you wish to legally protect your assets and interests from the potentially devastating impact of a divorce. These legal agreements aren’t for everyone, but they could provide the legal protection necessary to minimize the impact that divorce can have on one’s life.
If you’d like to learn more about postnups and whether or not one might be right for you, reach out to our attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP for help. During a consultation, we’ll assess your concerns and needs and offer ways in which our firm can help you protect what’s most important to you.