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What is a postnuptial agreement and do you need one?

You are likely aware of what a prenuptial agreement is and why it is important, but did you know there are also postnuptial agreements? Whereas a prenuptial comes before marriage, a postnuptial comes after. They serve similar purposes but have significant differences. Understanding this information can help you decide if you need to create a postnuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements

A prenuptial agreement explores what you would like to happen during the marriage and in the event of death or divorce, especially concerning asset division and financial responsibilities. Although the prenup has a bad reputation, it really is about protection and preparation. You can amend the agreement as your circumstances change.

Postnuptial agreements

A postnuptial agreement is similar, but legal limitations prevent it from being as comprehensive. Also, the approach for its creation depends on why you need it. If you want a plan for divorce, even if you are trying to reconcile first, it becomes a separation agreement. Otherwise, a postnuptial is usually a part of or like an estate plan, though it can also limit a spouse's harmful financial behaviors. While it can include alimony, it cannot cover child custody and child support.

Similarities of the two

Both agreements require the following:

  • Written documentation
  • The signatures of both spouses
  • Voluntary cooperation
  • Fair stipulations
  • Full disclosure of all assets, property, income and debt

Due to Florida law regarding postnuptial qualifications, it is best to use an experienced family lawyer to ensure the agreement is valid and fair, or the court will not enforce it.

Making the decision

Although there has been an increase in postnuptial agreements, there are certain things to consider before deciding to make one. First, how many assets do you have or expect to receive in the future (such as an inheritance)? The more you own, the more appropriate a postnuptial is. However, you should determine if you may be able to receive a better settlement in a divorce. Also, be positive that you are fully aware of all assets and trust that your spouse has been completely honest in disclosing the information.

Next, do you anticipate the possibility of divorce and lack a prenup? Having a postnuptial in place can give you peace of mind knowing it offers protection so you can put all your focus on repairing the marriage. Finally, are you voluntarily entering into the agreement? Any coercion, bribery, deceit or anything similar invalidates the agreement. If you are still unsure if a post nuptial is right for you, speak with a Florida family law attorney.

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