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What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?

Marriage is a legal and financial commitment. While many couples choose to sign a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot, some may find themselves wanting to establish financial arrangements after they’re already married.

Postnuptial agreements, explained

A postnuptial agreement, also known as a “post-marital agreement” or “postnup,” is a contract created by spouses after entering into a marriage that outlines asset ownership in the event of a divorce. It can also set out the responsibilities surrounding any children or other obligations during the marriage. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, which is signed prior to marriage, a postnuptial agreement is signed after the wedding, sometimes years afterward.

Why sign a postnup?

Postnups can serve as a means of protecting an inheritance, providing for a stay-at-home spouse, assigning ownership of a business, repaying a parental gift or even salvaging a marriage. By addressing these financial concerns, couples can alleviate tension and establish an equitable distribution of assets if the marriage dissolves.

However, it’s important to note that postnuptial agreements cannot address issues related to child custody or child support, as these matters are governed by state laws. They also may not regulate “routine aspects” of a marriage.

Creating a valid postnup

A legally valid postnup must be in writing, as oral contracts are not enforceable. Both parties must enter into the agreement voluntarily and with full and fair disclosure of relevant information at the time of execution. The terms of the agreement must not be unconscionable or unjust and finally, both spouses must sign the agreement.

Postnuptial agreements often cover various items beyond the basics. They establish what happens to marital property in the event of one spouse’s death, allowing a surviving spouse to waive certain property rights they would otherwise inherit. These agreements also establish terms agreed upon by both parties in advance of a separation, helping to avoid the time and cost of divorce proceedings. Finally, a postnuptial agreement may limit or waive alimony.

For help with your postnuptial agreement and related needs, call the trusted family lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN.

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