Has something changed since you got married, and you want to set new financial ground rules? You might benefit from a postnuptial agreement—in effect, a prenup that’s done after you’re married.
Postnups are on the rise, for many reasons. Some couples, hit hard by the recession, want to protect their assets. Others want certain arrangements in writing, like who does the chores. Whatever the reason, a postnup typically emerges from a change of circumstance—or a moment of clarity.
Carol was in her early 50s, grown kids, married to a man with a successful real estate business. Their 30-year marriage had hit a few bumps, and in counseling she realized that she felt vulnerable about money. Carol had given up her career to raise the kids and worried about not having her own income source. She needed to know she had cash of her own.
Her husband agreed (fortunately), and I drafted a postnuptial agreement for them, which required him to give her a set sum every month—like a paycheck—whether they stayed married or not. You might want a postnup if…
- Your spouse went on a gambling bender, but he's agreed to take sole responsibility for the debt.
- You received a significant inheritance, which you’re willing to invest in your mate's business—with a guarantee that if you divorce, he has to return the money.
- Your spouse is paying your stepchildren’s college tuition, and you want to make sure he’ll do the same for your kids when the time comes.
If your mate is willing, you can write a new playbook for your relationship. It could turn out to be an excellent investment. Life is long and so is marriage, and you sometimes need new rules to replace the old ones.
Margaret Klaw is a founding partner with Berner Klaw & Watson in Philadelphia. She blogs at Family Law Unraveled.