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Postnuptial agreements can ease the divorce process

While some Phoenix couples enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to walking down the aisle, many others neglected to take this step. Perhaps they viewed the entire process as unromantic or as a sign that they did not expect the marriage to last. Perhaps they simply got so wrapped up in wedding planning that they never got around to it. However, sometimes one spouse or the other will later regret not having a prenup. Is there any help to spouses in such situations?

Enter, the postnuptial agreement. Like a prenup, a postnuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that dictates what will happen with the couple's marital property should they divorce. This may be especially useful for high-asset couples who have a good deal of wealth to contend with. Postnuptial agreements can address asset division, spousal support and more.

That being said, the laws surrounding postnuptial agreements are not always as clear as those surrounding prenups. While certain states have clearly defined laws with regards to postnuptial agreements, in other states the laws with regards to postnuptial agreements are murkier. This has its basis in history. Up until about the 20th century, married women were not allowed to enter into a legally binding contractual agreement with their spouse. While this is no longer the case in this day and age, and married women can enter into postnuptial agreements with their husbands, the way the laws have been changed vary. Some are clear-cut, some leave the issue unaddressed and some are rather strange. A standard act called the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act exists, but it has been adopted by only two states.

That being said, postnuptial agreements are still gaining in popularity. A 2015 survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that about 50 percent of respondents said they were seeing more couples come to them to draft a postnuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements provide a means for couples who have a rocky marriage to realistically assess their situation and say, "While we'll try to work this out, if we can't this is how we're going to handle our financial affairs." In the end, with a postnuptial agreement in place, it may pave the way for an easier divorce should it come to that.

Source: Bloomberg, "Why More Couples Are Signing Postnuptial Agreements," Ben Steverman, April 28, 2017

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