Most people are aware of the concept of prenuptial, or premarital agreements (or “prenups”), but less commonly discussed in the popular culture is the protective legal tool of a postnuptial agreement. Many people are not even aware that postnuptial agreements exist, and while they are not part of the law in all 50 states, California does recognize the validity of postnuptial agreements. With the right legal counsel, a postnuptial agreement can be a great way for both spouses to achieve security and stability now in the knowledge that their potential post-marriage future (should that come to pass) is protected.
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement in that it is an agreement between two people that they themselves will presently decide how their property should be divided in the case of a divorce, and how much spousal support will be paid (if at all) and for how long. The obvious difference is that, while a prenuptial agreement is entered into before two people are married, a postnuptial agreement can be entered into at any point after the date of marriage.
Without a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, there is no guarantee of what might happen with regard to financial matters if the couple decides to pursue a divorce. Although the spouses can attempt to enter into a settlement agreement at that point, this can prove difficult when emotions and tensions run high (and when third parties may be influencing the parties to go after costly legal strategies), and each spouse can use the leverage of a long and expensive divorce trial to avoid settlement.
The Benefits of a Postnuptial Agreement
By entering into a postnuptial agreement, couples in a marriage can attain the following benefits:
- Security that, should the marriage end, they know they will receive property and support benefits that they themselves agreed to
- The ability to avoid delay and unnecessary drama in a divorce
- Increased property that can be split between the spouses and not go to pay for increased attorney fees during a trial
- Privacy, as the details of a postnuptial agreement need not be entered into the public record as would occur in a divorce trial
- Increased harmony in the marriage due to the fact that neither party has to worry about unexpected tactics or use of leverage in a divorce dispute
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Creating Your Postnuptial Agreement
In order for a postnuptial agreement to be legally valid and effective in a California divorce proceeding, it must be approved by a judge during the divorce. The judge will generally only approve a postnuptial agreement if it is fair in light of California law and both parties received adequate, independent legal counsel in entering into the agreement.
The family law attorneys at Access Lawyers Group will help you negotiate, draft, and finalize a postnuptial agreement which protects your future interests and will be legally binding in any future divorce. Contact one of our attorneys today to schedule a consultation regarding any questions you have about postnuptial agreements.