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Could a postnup be in your future?

Not all couples get or need prenuptial agreements. They can certainly be helpful when the romance fades and divorce becomes a possibility. Still, many engaged couples fear jinxing their marriages before they even start.

Sometimes during the course of a marriage, a couple's priorities and circumstances change. They may have acquired, earned or inherited money or other assets that they desire to keep as separate property. Together, they may have built a successful business from the ground up and are wondering what will happen to it if divorce becomes a reality and not an abstract idea.

In these — and many other — scenarios, postnuptial agreements can be ideal for reestablishing the marital terms to reflect the change in circumstances.

How does a postnup work?

Much like prenuptial agreements do, these legal contracts are signed by both spouses at some point after the marriage has taken place. Postnups detail the ways in which the couple's resources shall be split if the marriage ends in divorce.

Couples frequently seek a postnup at a point of vulnerability in the marriage, although that is not always the precursor to the decision. Perhaps one partner was unfaithful but intends to reconcile and save the marriage. He or she might use a postnup to signify willingness to recommit to the marriage. A postnup can delineate the unfavorable terms the unfaithful partner would accept if infidelity occurs again.

Blended families often rely on postnups

Second and subsequent marriages can create a tangled web of financial bonds to former spouses and children that parents conceived with other partners. You can eliminate the guesswork by drafting your intentions in a postnup.

While legally binding, postnups aren't magical documents capable of keeping marriages alive that are already on life support. People can still violate postnups when they are plotting exit strategies from bad marriages. But the mere existence of these contractual agreements provide the aggrieved spouses with legal premises to challenge the division of assets.

How to introduce the idea of a postnup

Timing is important when discussing hot-button topics like pre and postnups. When quibbling couples drop the bomb in the heat of anger, it can cast a lasting pall over the subject. The best time for such a discussion is when both spouses are calm and rational. Then, make sure each has an attorney review the terms before anyone signs.

Source: ABC News, "Forget the Prenup: Why You May Need a Postnuptial Agreement," AJ Smith, accessed Jan. 26, 2018

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