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What do postnuptial agreements involve?

Prenuptial agreements might be familiar to many Minnesota couples thinking about marriage. Prenups are often mentioned on celebrity news pages, increasing the public’s awareness about these agreements. Postnuptial agreements might not receive as much attention, although they serve a purpose similar to a prenuptial agreement. They could protect one spouse’s assets in case of a divorce.

What postnuptial agreements do

The more well-known prenuptial agreement involves a contractual arrangement establishing financial distributions and other prearranged decisions agreed upon before entering into the marriage. The agreement could establish sole ownership of a business to one spouse while also determining an alimony figure. With a postnuptial agreement, the contract may contain the same prenup elements, but couples establish them during the marriage.

Some may wonder why a married couple did not take steps to sign a prenuptial agreement and then later decided to enact a postnuptial one. Perhaps a prenuptial agreement does exist, and the couple wishes to replace it with a new agreement. Maybe the financial circumstances changed during the marriage, and a postnuptial agreement seems beneficial. For example, one spouse might earn tremendous wealth from a professional endeavor that the other spouse was not involved in.

Tensions could arise in the marriage over the “question marks” about financial concerns. Signing a postnuptial agreement might potentially address those tensions.

Postnuptial agreements and their legality

Those considering a postnuptial agreement need to realize that the contract must be a valid one under the law. Many elements of contract law may apply to a postnuptial agreement. Don’t expect a postnuptial agreement to hold up in court if no one signs the document. Plans to go into court claiming a “verbal prenuptial agreement” might lead to significant disappointment.

Instances of fraud or coercion may invalidate the document. Lying to one spouse about hidden assets, for example, could render the contract invalid. Telling a spouse that a business earns $25,000 per year when it truly earns $250,000 might fraudulently sway a decision to sign.

A postnuptial agreement could protect one spouse’s assets while providing reasonable and equitable settlements to the other spouse during a divorce. A divorce attorney could assist couples with writing and formalizing such an agreement.

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