Can You Get a Prenup After You Get Married?
When you join your spouse in marriage, you also join debts, assets, future inheritances, rights to your children, and more. Because marriage is a legal-binding agreement, it’s important to consider and mitigate the legal risks associated with marriage.
Many couples address and plan for the legal implications of marriage, divorce, and/or death of spouse prior to tying the knot through a legally binding prenuptial agreement, often called a prenup. Prenuptial agreements can detail a wide range of topics, including:
- how each spouse’s current assets will be handled within the marriage
- how any inheritances or other assets received after marriage will be treated
- how the spouses will handle income and expenses; how these items will be shared or divided
- how debts existing prior to marriage will be handled after marriage
- how property and assets will be handled in the event of divorce or death of one spouse
- how the children will be cared for during the marriage and in the event of divorce
- who will pay child support and how much should the marriage end in divorce
- how any step children will be cared for during marriage and in the event of the death of the biological parent
When you’re already married
While these details are very important to work out prior to getting married, it’s not too late to draft a legally-binding agreement if you’re already married. In these cases, couples can draft an agreement called a postnuptial agreement. In many cases, postnuptial agreements are drafted when a couple first begins considering a separation or divorce, but the best time to draft a postnuptial agreement is as soon as you consider the importance of discussing and binding the items you’re concerned about while you and your spouse are still on good terms.
Postnuptial agreements are only honored in court in Massachusetts when the following are true:
- both parties have a “real opportunity” to be fair and adequately represented by an attorney or legal counsel of their choosing
- all assets are fully disclosed by both parties
- the language in the agreement adequately waives certain rights that come with marriage
- the agreement is both reasonable and fair, both at the time the document was drafted and at the time the document is enforced
- there is no evidence of coercion or fraud
What kind of attorney can assist with postnuptial agreements?
Postnuptial agreements fall under family law, so the best attorney to assist you with the process is a family law attorney. It’s important to note that you and your spouse cannot share an attorney when drafting your postnuptial agreement as this is considered a conflict of interest and can null and void your agreement from a legal perspective. Any reputable family law attorney will ensure you understand why separate attorneys are recommended/required for this kind of agreement.
What’s the difference between a postnuptial agreement and a separation agreement?
The primary difference between a postnuptial agreement and separation agreement is that the postnuptial agreement is drafted before the parties have made a decision to separate, while separation agreements are drafted after the parties have decided to separate. Although the agreements are drafted at different stages in the relationship, the topics they cover and the rules and regulations governing how they’re handled in court are very similar. As a matter of fact, there are few differences between these two documents (postnuptial and separation agreements) and prenuptial agreements.
Do I even need a prenup if I can get a postnuptial agreement?
Yes. Entering into marriage without a prenuptial agreement puts both you and your spouse at risk should the other die or the relationship end in divorce. If you bypass a prenup in hopes that you can draft a postnuptial agreement after you say your vows, there’s a chance your spouse will refuse to sign the postnuptial agreement or you won’t be able to come to terms on the agreement. Postnuptial agreements are a good option if it’s too late for a prenup, but prenups are advised whenever possible.
To learn more about postnuptial agreements or secure legal counsel to represent you as you work through the process, contact Infinity Law Group at 855-941-0909 or visit us online today.