Once all the hubbub from the ceremony and honeymoon has died down and real-life sets in, and you begin ALL THE PAPERWORK – change of names on social security cards, driver’s license, investments, life insurance policies, beneficiaries, you may realize that you have not made any plans for the future aside from marital bliss. Let’s face it, who really wants to plan for the end of a union when you’re planning for the rest of your life together.

In reality, both pre- and postnuptial agreements don’t necessarily mean that you’re expecting the marriage to fail, but it helps to alleviate some of the stresses and tensions that can be caused by financial concerns within the union as well as remove some of the frustrations and time-consuming aspects of divorce proceedings. From this perspective, these agreements are simply a smart move for both partners.

What is the difference between a Prenuptial and a Postnuptial Agreement?

In some cases, people do sign a prenup, especially when protecting assets or when there is a financial disparity among partners. Negotiating the division of assets and responsibility of debts as well as protecting an inheritance or family trust, especially in the case of second (or third) marriages, or when children are involved, prenuptial agreements can save a lot of heartache in the long run. For the rest of us, a postnuptial agreement offers reassurance after the fact. Rising in popularity, a postnup covers the same things, determining how to divide marital assets and future earnings if the need arises. Not always enacted in times of marital crisis, these agreements can help to alleviate financial tension by forcing the couple to engage in difficult conversations.

What does a Postnuptial Agreement Cover?

Much like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement covers much of the same, including division of assets, but can also become necessary when one partner’s circumstances have changed during the course of the marriage. A large inheritance or family property should be protected since Louisiana is one of the few remaining states where a community property law still applies. That is, any item of value acquired during the marriage is considered joint property and subject to the terms of the divorce settlement.

Are Postnuptial Agreements legally binding?

Laws vary by state but there are basic elements to any postnuptial agreement – including voluntary participation by both parties into a written agreement that includes full disclosure of all relevant information and is signed by both parties. Postnuptial agreements should not be unjust or used as “punishment” for one of the partners, but help to establish the equitable distribution of the assets.

What should be included in a Postnuptial Agreement?

Much like you would establish a division of assets in a prenuptial agreement, a postnup should establish division or ownership of real estate purchased during the marriage, retirement and stock assets, future earnings, and more. What cannot be included, though, is any agreement pertaining to custody or support of children within the marriage. In the case of divorce, child custody agreements must adhere to state laws.

Is a Postnuptial Agreement a good idea?

A postnuptial agreement allows both parties to quickly and amicably handle difficult decisions in the event of a divorce. In addition, these agreements should not be seen as taboo or in poor taste, but rather as couples are planning for their lives together it is helpful to look at all aspects of life together and apart. Whether signed immediately after the wedding or years later, the reasons for entering into a postnuptial agreement vary for each couple.

The Law Office of Michael A. Rosenblatt works through this process with clients, allowing marriages to move forward comfortably and confidently.