The Pros and Cons of Pre- and Postnuptial AgreementsA prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people who are getting ready to get married. Your family law attorney will draw up the agreement, which is unique to each couple depending on their specific situation. A postnuptial agreement is entered into after the couple is married. It serves a similar function as the “prenup,” with the difference being that it is drawn up after the wedding.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Each can have their pros and cons.

What are the benefits of prenuptial agreements?

Drawing up a prenuptial agreement presents a great opportunity for the couple to discuss finances and resolve how the couple will divide assets in the event of divorce. Conflict about finances is one of the leading causes of divorce, so if a couple can open up a dialogue about finances and how they will handle them at the outset, it could eliminate a lot of conflict on this potentially touchy subject.

A prenuptial agreement can clarify what will be considered separate property and marital property. It can also put any special arrangements that the couple has made between themselves in writing as long as they are fair and equitable and neither party enters into the agreement under coercion.

What are the detriments of prenuptial agreements?

As you might imagine, just broaching the subject can be a romance killer if it is not done in the right way. The fact that one party feels the need to create a prenup can also erode trust between the couple.

Timing is of critical importance. If a couple is young and just starting their careers on relatively equal footing, a prenuptial agreement might not even be necessary. If a couple is marrying a bit later in life, and one has considerable more assets than the other, or children from a previous marriage, a prenuptial agreement could be a valuable tool if both parties are on board with it.

Finally, it is nearly impossible to anticipate and allow for all of the changes that might take place in a couple’s life, so what looks like a sensible agreement might not make sense 15 years down the road. Working on the document with the help of an experienced lawyer can help protect you and your family later on.

What are the benefits of postnuptial agreements?

Creating a postnuptial agreement creates a good opportunity for the couple to assess their financial situation. A postnuptial agreement can be an important part of the couple’s estate plan and business succession plans, and can be used to make financial arrangements for children from a previous marriage.

What are the detriments of postnuptial agreements?

As with a prenup, simply broaching the topic might make the other spouse suspicious and begin to see it as a “divorce planning tool.” Unless considerable care is taken, there is the opportunity for coercion when one party stands to benefit more than the other. Postnuptial agreements are carefully scrutinized by the court. In order for them to be enforceable there can be no coercion in getting the other party to sign it, it must be fair and equitable to both parties, and each party must fully disclose all assets and liabilities.

With both types of agreements there is the opportunity to have constructive conversations about finances and the couple’s goals and plans for the future. Being able to have an open dialogue about these issues keeps a relationship healthy. On the other hand, if there is distrust or unwillingness to deal with challenging topics, discussing a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement can create a problem in the relationship.

If you are considering a prenup or a postnup, talk to an experienced family law attorney who will discuss your situation and help you determine which arrangement is appropriate for your circumstances. Call the family law team at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC today and schedule an in-person or video consultation. We are happy to answer your questions and ease your mind.