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Should I sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?

Picking out a tasty cake, finding the perfect floral arrangements and settling on venue that works well for both sides of the family are all important parts of wedding planning. But when you plan for one of the biggest days of your life, the last thing you want to think about is the worst-case scenario.

However, just in case you file for divorce or your spouse dies, you can sign pre- and post-nuptial agreements to protect your property and other assets. Understanding what sets these two legal contracts apart and how they work can help you decide if either fit into your family planning process.

What’s the difference?

If you are still in the wedding planning phase, then you and your partner can consider a prenuptial or premarital agreement. A prenup can create a roadmap of how property ownership, assets and debt is divided after separation. The agreement can also include terms for post-marriage spousal support and commitment to create a will or trust.

Whether you are a newlywed or many years into your marriage, you can sign a postnuptial agreement anytime the prenup window has passed. Like a prenup, a postnup can include a plan for asset division and alimony after marriage.

A postnup agreement can also include sections to protect your children that may not have been part of your family until after marriage. By listing your children as inheritors of the family business or other assets, your postnup can help set them up for success down the line.

It’s worth noting that you and your spouse can agree to sign both prenuptial and postnuptial documents, and you also have the option to alter your prenup.

What are the benefits?

Besides creating financial security at the end of breakup or unfortunate death of your spouse, some other benefits to pre- and post-nuptial agreements are:

  • Less ambiguity about finances will lead to less arguments, which could potentially save your marriage
  • Even if child support or custody details can’t be part of these types of agreements, you can still secure assets that will help you take proper care of your children
  • When divorce is inevitable, the process could be more streamlined if you clearly outline the division of joint and community property

Planning for a future without your soon-to-be or current spouse isn’t an easy task, but there are skilled family law attorneys that can guide your through the legal process.