Post-marriage changes can call for postnuptial agreements

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Prenuptial Agreements on Friday, January 24, 2014.

Many Maryland residents have heard of prenuptial agreements, which are contracts between the two parties in a couple before they are married. A valid prenuptial agreement can cover a lot of issues in advance, protecting the assets of each spouse and saving a lot of time should they later divorce.

Less well known is the fact that Maryland recognizes postnuptial agreements. These contracts are essentially the same things as prenuptial agreements, with the only difference being that they are signed after the couple is married.

Married people sometimes sign a postnuptial agreement after their marriage hits a rocky patch and they are beginning to contemplate divorce. In these cases, a valid agreement can help either spouse or both feel more secure in knowing that the divorce will go relatively smoothly if it does come to pass.

However, there can be good reasons to sign a postnuptial agreement that have nothing to do with current marital problems. One reason would be a big change in the couple's financial relationship.

For example, if both spouses have been working and one decides to stay home to raise children, the stay-at-home parent is making a big financial sacrifice. Should the couple divorce, and that parent be forced to rejoin the workforce, he or she will likely have a hard time earning the kind of living he or she had before having kids. The change in income can have big implications during the property division process of a divorce, as the court looks at what each party brought into the marital property. Having a postnuptial agreement can help a spouse feel that he or she will be financially secure even if divorce follows a big financial step such as giving up a career.

It should be noted that valid prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can decide many legal issues in advance, but they cannot legally decide issues of child support or child custody. Neither can they waive a right to alimony. They also can't legally decide personal matters, such as who will do what chores, and they can't demand anything illegal. Courts will look at these contracts strictly, so it is important to create these agreements with the help of Maryland attorneys with experience in many aspects of family law.

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