Most married people in Northern Virginia have heard of prenuptial agreements. If they don’t have a prenup themselves, they might know a couple that does, or at least they have heard of this potentially important legal tool. A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people who are planning to get married. They use the prenup to settle any number of issues, such as which spouse would get to keep which assets if they ever get divorced.
The fact that a couple negotiates and agrees on a prenuptial agreement before marriage suggests that it is too late to do this type of planning once you are married. But don’t worry as it is still possible to protect your wealth or resolve certain claims in the event of a future divorce. This is where the postnuptial agreement comes in.
The main difference between prenups and postnups
Postnuptial agreements differ from prenuptial agreements in one way: timing. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, which is negotiated and executed before marriage, a postnuptial agreement is created for a marriage that already exists. Otherwise, they are virtually identical and they are governed by the same Virginia statutes.
Just as with prenups, asking your spouse to draw up a postnup does not mean you want a divorce or think the marriage is on the verge of failing. Postnuptial agreements are simply a means for people to try to resolve certain disputes and issues that may arise in the event of a future marital separation or divorce, such as protecting premarital wealth or agreeing to terms for spousal support. In fact, having a postnup in place can give married people enough assurance to help them decide to stay in the marriage. For example, for people who have children from previous relationships, this can help ensure that their kids will receive a substantial inheritance, no matter what.
Bringing up a delicate topic
Still, if you and your spouse have not already agreed to pursue a postnuptial agreement, bringing it up can take delicacy. Speak to a family law attorney about the best way to discuss this with your spouse. Remember, each of you should have your own lawyer representing you.