Postnuptial agreements can address family law concerns
Prenuptial agreements have become common fixtures for many couples before marriage, including those in California. However, with the U.S. divorce rate now at 40 percent and the California rate at 60 percent, married couples in some circumstances should also consider postnuptial agreements when they make major changes during marriage. For example, postnuptial agreements may be helpful when one parent decides to forgo a career, perhaps temporarily, in order to stay at home to raise the couple’s children.
A postnuptial agreement operates in the same way a prenuptial contract does. It protects property separately owned by spouses and assigns the amount of spousal support in case the marriage ends. The main difference is that a postnuptial agreement is only drafted after the couple has exchanged their vows.
Because California is a community property state, asset division usually involves a 50-50 split. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can change that formula.
There is no single formula for how spouses will handle finances during their marriage. Particularly if only one of them works to meet the family’s needs, then financial decisions on savings, investments and spending should be specified in a postnuptial agreement.
In addition, a spouse who stays at home may be out of the workforce long enough that finding employment in a previous career becomes almost impossible after divorce. If a couple foresees the effects of giving up employment and accounts for it, then it becomes easier to identify the amount of spousal support after divorce and who will pay it.
Such family law concerns often result in disputes during divorce. Being proactive means drafting and signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. However, because such an agreement acts as a contract, it should be drafted carefully and may require the help of an experienced family law attorney.
Source: Forbes, “Why you need a postnup and other points to consider before leaving your paid job to be a stay-at-home mom,” Jeff Landers, Jan. 22, 2014