difference between prenuptial and a postnuptial

Marriage continues to be one of the most important personal and legal relationships people pursue. Couples eagerly recite nuptial vows at weddings, promising each other eternal love and support. However, reality has proven time and again that not all marriages are meant to last. Although the United States is experiencing a steady decline in divorce rates, hundreds of thousands of couples still decide to throw in the towel every year.

Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements, commonly known as prenups and postnups, exist to make people’s lives as easy and peaceful as possible when divorce is in sight.

While the idea of dividing assets before or during marriage isn’t exactly a romantic notion, it can help couples avoid messy, expensive and drawn-out divorce proceedings. These agreements also help protect the interests of both spouses and their children.

Defining a Prenup

A prenup is a legally binding written contract a couple signs prior to getting legally married. A prenup specifies how a couple will divide their assets in the event of a divorce.

Prenups aren’t just meant to settle financial issues after a marriage ends. Couples can also use it as a tool to divide financial responsibilities during the marriage. For example, they may decide each person will cover half of all monthly expenses, or maybe one spouse wishes to pay the mortgage, and the other spouse is responsible for utility bills.

Should I Get a Prenup?

Getting a prenup is a personal choice. While some couples won’t “talk business” before marriage in fear of sabotaging their romantic relationship, some will look at it as an opportunity to create transparency and clear expectations in their relationship.

Even though any couple can sign a prenup, the ones who benefit most from the agreements are typically wealthy couples entering the marriage with many assets or a significant estate.

You may want to consider a prenup if you’re anticipating receiving a large inheritance during the marriage or you have children from a previous relationship. Keep in mind that without a prenup or a will, your spouse will likely get most of your estate should you die, even if you wish to leave some or all of it to your kids.

Defining a Postnup

A postnup agreement is much like a prenup except it’s crafted and signed by couples who are already married. A postnup agreement spells out how you and your spouse will handle your assets and alimony in case of divorce or if one of you dies during the marriage.

Postnups also allow for the inclusion of personal clauses, such as division of chores or an infidelity clause. Not all states recognize or enforce postnups. While Minnesota does allow postnuptial contracts, it’s often a good idea to talk to a trusted family law attorney before drafting a postnup.

Should I Get a Postup?

For married couples who have previously rejected the notion of a prenup, a postnup gives them another opportunity to decide how to divide their assets should their marriage lead to divorce.

If you’re not sure whether you and your spouse should draft a postnuptial agreement, consider the following questions:

  • Have you accumulated significant wealth or you’re expecting a hefty inheritance in the coming years?
  • Do you have children from a previous marriage and want to make sure they will receive your estate?
  • Do you own a business? Keep in mind that if you divorce, your ex-spouse may be entitled to a portion of your business unless a postnup is signed.
  • Have you or your spouse accumulated a significant amount of debt?
  • Is your marriage going through a rough patch and you’re considering parting ways with your spouse?

We Can Help You Find an Experienced Family Law Attorney to Help with a Prenup or a Postnup

Minneapolis–St. Paul metro area residents looking for advice on marriage and family law issues can contact a Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) referral counselor for help finding a lawyer. Our dedicated team will take the time to connect you with reputable family law attorneys to address your legal concerns.

To schedule your free 30-minute consultation, call (612) 752-6699.