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Prenuptial versus postnuptial agreements

WEINER LAWInsightsPrenuptial AgreementsPrenuptial versus postnuptial agreements

Prenuptial Agreements Friday, July 21, 2017

Ending a marriage can be one of the most traumatic experiences any person can go through. However, some people in New Jersey have found that having a prenuptial agreement in place eased the divorce process. It not only made it less traumatic, but it also saved them a lot of time and money.

Times have changed, and many young couples prefer to establish their careers before they consider marriage. When they do get married, they have already accumulated assets that might need protection. While discussions about marriage contracts were deemed tricky in the past, they have become much more commonplace these days.

What are the options?

The circumstances of every couple are unique, and you may not feel the need for a prenuptial agreement. But how will you protect that inheritance that you are expecting, and what if you win the lotto? If you get married without a prenup and then acquire assets that need protection later, you will have the option of a postnuptial agreement. Here are some differences and reasons why you might prefer one over the other:

  • Prenuptial agreements— A prenup is a contract that you sign before the wedding date, and the primary purpose is to protect the existing property of each party along with expected acquisitions. The agreement will specify how you and your spouse want to divide your assets if your marriage should end in divorce. While some people believe this to be an unromantic process that may doom a marriage, others find peace of mind knowing that their property is safe.
  • Postnuptial agreements— As the name indicates, you can sign a postnup sometime after the date of your marriage. Stock options, retirement assets, real estate and any other assets you acquired after you got married will be marital property. A postnuptial agreement can specify how to treat many of these items in the event of a divorce.

Which option is right for you?

Both these agreements can serve an additional purpose if one spouse should die. They can determine financial distribution, which is often an important factor if you have children from an earlier marriage. If you or your soon-to-be spouse has significant assets or a substantial estate before the marriage, a prenuptial agreement can provide the necessary protection. The same applies if you expect a family trust distribution or an inheritance.

Conversely, if you were young and only just starting your career when you got married, you might not have found it necessary to sign a prenup because you had nothing to protect. However, circumstances change, and you may have started a business that proved to be a great success. You may now want to protect it, or your business partners might want you to sign a postnup to prevent losses if your marriage should end.

The bottom line

Regardless of your option, both a prenup and a postnup have advantages. Some couples also use these agreements to stipulate many personal items. The only aspects that you cannot include in a marriage agreement are child-related issues, which the court will determine based on the best interests of the children. If you are considering drafting a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you may find it helpful to gain legal support and guidance to make sure it will hold up in court.