While most of us have a pretty good idea about what a prenuptial agreement is, many people don’t know the first thing about postnuptial agreements. If you’re married and don’t have a prenup, you may want to consider a postnuptial agreement – and it does not mean that you are hedging your bets or are even considering divorce. Instead, a postnuptial agreement is a legal contract that fills in for a prenuptial agreement – if you don’t have one or if yours has timed out or has otherwise been revoked – and is only implemented in the event of divorce. If you have questions related to a postnuptial agreement, the experienced family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix can help.
A Postnuptial Agreement Aids the Divorce Process
If your marriage does end in divorce, your postnuptial agreement aids the divorce process immensely. A postnuptial agreement is not a harbinger of divorce by any means, and many go unused permanently. If your marriage does come to an end, however, this legal document will guide the important decisions that need to be made, including:
- The division of your marital property – The division of marital property is one of the most hotly contested issues in any divorce and can greatly increase the time it takes to obtain a divorce. Your postnuptial agreement will delineate who gets what, which properties are marital property, and which properties are separate property – and removes this time-consuming and expensive obstacle from the divorce process.
- Spousal Maintenance – If your postnuptial agreement addresses spousal maintenance – what many of us think of as alimony – you similarly won’t need to address this issue in the course of your divorce. Spousal maintenance is highly specific to the case at hand and can take a considerable amount of time to negotiate during the divorce process. Your postnuptial agreement can take this component of your divorce off the negotiation table.
It’s important to point out, however, that issues related to child custody and child support cannot be addressed in a postnuptial agreement (or prenuptial agreement). These are issues that must be settled by the court (or agreed to by the court) and must only be settled in real-time in accordance with state laws.
Fortifying Your Marriage
Many people contend that a postnuptial agreement is a sign that one’s marriage is destined to fall apart, but this is far from the case. On the contrary, going through the process of creating a postnuptial agreement makes you and your spouse face the facts as they relate to divorce, and this can help you recognize just how difficult and painful a divorce would be. You can look at your postnuptial agreement as a tool that helps you keep your marriage on track. You both had to sign off on the postnuptial agreement, and you’re both well aware at this point exactly how damaging a divorce would be.
Since we’ve touched on the topic of how a postnuptial agreement can help strengthen your marriage, it’s important to bring up the issue of arguments about money in a marriage. Arguments about money are undeniably common in marriages, and serious money arguments are closely associated with divorce. A postnuptial agreement can address and guide your current finances. A postnuptial agreement puts all your money questions into black and white and provides answers to those questions. This can help alleviate your worries and concerns related to money in your marriage. Instead of letting money problems lead you to divorce, you can use your postnuptial agreement to address your money issues head-on – before divorce becomes the answer.
Protecting Your Future
Even if you have a comprehensive prenuptial agreement, it likely can’t anticipate all of life’s twists and turns. This is where a postnuptial agreement can help. If you and your spouse have greatly increased your financial holdings over the course of your marriage, have started a business, have expanded a business, or have branched out financially in ways you never imagined, a postnuptial agreement can succinctly address the issue.
Your Postnuptial Agreement
If you’re wondering whether you need a postnuptial agreement, consider your finances, and if they are anything other than extremely straightforward, a postnuptial agreement is probably a good idea. While prenuptial agreements are governed by legal statute in the State of Arizona, postnuptial agreements are a matter of judicial precedent, which means they are recognized by the courts because there is precedent to do so. Your postnuptial agreement is viewed by the court in much the same way that any contract is – as long as it contains the elements necessary to make it valid and enforceable, including:
- Your postnuptial agreement should be in writing.
- Your postnuptial agreement should be signed by both of you.
- Your postnuptial agreement should be notarized.
- The agreements set forth in your postnuptial agreement must be fair and equitable (the court won’t sign off on the agreement if it deems that one spouse is coming out ahead at the other spouse’s expense).
Keeping Things Fair
The court will be looking to make sure your postnuptial agreement treats both of you reasonably fairly. Within these parameters, you are free to get creative with the division of your marital property. If, for example, your family business is your spouse’s darling, and you hope to remain in your family home, you can divide things with these goals in mind. The court is interested in the fairness of how the dollar value of your assets is divided but cannot concern itself with the personal value you place in your home, business, art collection, investments, or anything else – only you and your spouse can assign these values, and you can use your postnuptial agreement to address them.
Questions about a Postnuptial Agreement? Call a Phoenix Family Law Attorney
A postnuptial agreement can address the financial concerns in your marriage and guide your financial decisions if your marriage does end in divorce. A postnuptial agreement, however, can only help if it is a valid legal document that fairly addresses these issues, and the dedicated family law attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC in Phoenix are committed to helping you create a postnuptial agreement that protects your rights and works for you. Our formidable legal team is here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 602-457-6559 for more information today.