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It's not too late to sign a marriage agreement

Even if you and your spouse never considered signing a prenuptial agreement, you probably understood the purpose of these contracts, at least in part. Although some people may think of prenuptial agreements as a way to protect your assets from your spouse in the event of a divorce, prenups have many more positive uses that can benefit both partners.

However, if you are already married, you may think that ship has sailed, and a prenuptial agreement is not a viable option for you. You may be interested in learning more about postnuptial agreements, which are contracts similar to prenups but made for married couples.

Why might I need a postnuptial agreement?

Even just a few years after the wedding, your marriage may be very different than it was at the start. It is not uncommon for the direction and goals of a couple to evolve as new opportunities arise. Other factors may change, such as the level of trust between you and your spouse. A postnuptial agreement can address many of those issues. Some of the most common reasons why couples sign postnuptial contracts include the following:

  • You intended to sign a prenuptial agreement but never got around to it.
  • You or your spouse has acquired a significant amount of individual wealth, such as an inheritance.
  • One of you has established a business and wants to keep it separate from your family finances.
  • You and your spouse wish to clarify certain lifestyle issues, such as how you will make, spend or save money.
  • One of you has taken or is considering taking on significant debt, such as to start a new business, and wants to protect the other from liability.

Sometimes, especially among celebrities and the very wealthy, a postnuptial agreement arises from an episode of adultery. For example, if your spouse has been unfaithful, you may request a postnuptial agreement that requires your spouse to pay a certain amount of money if he or she ever cheats again.

Creating a binding agreement

Postnuptial agreements are more difficult to prove valid in a California court. A judge will want to verify that you and your spouse have fully disclosed everything that is relevant to your agreement. Additionally, if there is evidence that one of you signed under duress or that the agreement is unfair to either partner, a judge may be reluctant to uphold your contract.

One way to improve the chances of receiving the approval of the court is to seek individual legal counsel before putting your signature to the document. An attorney can help ensure the language in the contract is enforceable and that the agreement protects your best interests.

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