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Just married? A postnuptial agreement may be a good idea

When getting married, it is important to protect the assets you have, especially if a prenuptial agreement was never drafted or talked about. However, postnuptial agreements exist and are no longer just a tool for the wealthiest of Americans to protect their assets. More middle class couples in Illinois are signing these agreements in an effort to avoid conflict in the future.

Prenuptial or antenuptial agreements are contracts couples enter into before they get married. Postnuptial agreements are for couples who are already married. These voluntary agreements address the same issues that prenups address, like finances and property. Postnuptial agreements also address responsibilities for children, support and probate decisions that are not or cannot legally be decided before marriage.

At one time, these agreements were considered controversial, but the stigma seems to have gone away, as more individuals seek to protect assets in light of a life change. The postnuptial agreements are typically initiated by the husband, but women are increasingly requesting these agreements, according to a recent survey.

Some parents are requiring their children to sign postnuptial agreements in order to receive their inheritances, by writing this provision into estate plans. One law firm noted that 50 percent of estate plans they have drafted in the past few years have included a requirement for beneficiary children to have postnuptial agreements.

Some attorneys say that the postnuptial agreement is becoming more popular than the prenuptial agreement, which still has a bit of a social stigma attached to it. A survey respondent said he knew of two grooms who canceled their weddings when their brides refused to sign prenuptial agreements. Interestingly, both of the men were entering into their second marriages, and both were business owners. Apparently, their first experiences with marriage made them a little wary.

They may not have been any more successful convincing their wives to sign postnuptial agreements, but many couples are finding postnups to be an effective way to settle matters before conflict arises, and before couples lose their perspective. With sources of potential conflict out of the way, the couples can relax and enjoy their lives together.

Source: Private Wealth, "Postnuptial Agreements On Rise, Lawyers Say," Caren Chesler, Sept. 12, 2012

Our firm helps couples with antenuptial and postnuptial agreements, similar to the ones discussed in this post. You can learn more about our practice by visiting our Lake County, Illinois, divorce and family law support page.

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